A Manager vs a Leader: Which Are You?

If you are like most people, you want to be great in your role. Everyone wants to progress forward in their career and get better along the way. The hard reality is, that the norm in business and in life is that if we aren’t intentional about trying to improve, we can stagnate and develop habits that make us ineffective. We want to lead, but we just end up managing. So what is the difference between a manager and a leader?

To simplify the answer, a leader is someone who guides, persuades, motivates, inspires their employees to be committed, to do their best, and to work together to achieve a common objective. Whereas, the pure management approach is being told, directed, ordered, and treated as subordinates.

True leaders are recognized as being the leader and their followers accept that they need to be guided by that leader. However, they do not feel that they are mere subordinates. A good example is the captain of a sports team – this is an individual who has a role to play, yet he/she motivates and encourages others to do their best, to use their individual skills, knowledge, and experience (scoring goals, defending, winning races, hitting home runs) whilst at the same time working together as a member of the team to achieve team objectives.

Managers perform transactions but leaders bring about transformations.

The transactional manager influences others by appealing to self-interest, primarily through the exchange of rewards and services. The relationship between this type of manager and the follower is seen as a series of rational exchanges that enable each to reach their own goals. Transactional managers supply all the ideas and use rewards as their primary source of power. Followers comply with the leader when it’s in their own interest – the relationship continues as long as the reward is desirable to the follower, and both the manager and the follower see the exchange as a way of achieving their own ends.

The transformational leader inspires followers to not only perform as expected, but to exceed expectations – transformational leaders motivate followers to work for goals that go beyond immediate self-interest, where what is right and good becomes important. These leaders transform the needs, values, preferences, and aspirations of followers. They do this so that the interests of the wider group replaces the self-interest of individuals within that group.

Leaders inspire those who follow them to a better future. They have the ability to recognize talent, give trust and empower those around them to achieve more than they knew was possible. If you want some help in learning how you can become more of a leader and not just a manager of people – we are here to help!