Is there a difference between a leader and a manager? The simple answer is yes. Many people use these terms interchangeably, but there is a significant difference between the two. This makes it vital to differentiate them to gain a clear understanding.
Let’s start with the main difference, which is the definition. A manager is an individual hired by an organization to control or supervise employees. A leader, on the other hand, is someone who guides and motivates an individual or group of individuals towards achieving a specific goal.
With the definitions out of the way, below are more differences between a leader and a manager. A leader:
- Is a visionary: In an organization, a leader is someone responsible for setting the vision. The vision is what the organization wants to achieve in the long-term – the desired future state. Managers are the individuals who execute the vision by making sure that the activities of employees are aligned with it.
- Inspires people: Leaders inspire people to work towards the organization’s goals while a manager steers people towards achieving them. That means leaders need to be both good communicators and listeners. This allows them to develop a personal leadership style that engages and motivates the workforce to take positive action in helping the organization be successful.
- Is future-oriented: Leaders are more concerned with where the organization will be in the future. Managers are focused on where the organization is right now. That means leaders give employees something to strive for while managers set up the processes and procedures that will allow employees to get the job done.
- Shapes the culture: Culture is important because it dictates the organization’s beliefs, behaviors, and values. A leader will define the culture and shape it while a manager will endorse it and ensure that the actions of employees reflect it in the best way possible.