What is the difference between a "manager" and a "leader?" (From, "Beyond Better Leadership")


The Oxford Dictionary definition of a manager is- a person who conducts or manages a business, or business affairs. A manager, then, is concerned with the processes of getting the job done. A manager’s focus is getting the results needed by administrating the systems and operations necessary to get those results. Many leaders are also managers or supervisors, but not all managers are leaders. Leadership is not about administration, but is all about people, and knowing that people make a difference.

Here are some distinctions between managers and leaders:

  • The manager administrates, the leader innovates

  • The manager is a copy; the leader is an original

  • The manager maintains; the leader develops

  • The manager accepts reality; the leader investigates it

  • The manager focuses on systems and structures; the leader focuses on people.

  • The manager relies on control; the leader inspires trust.

  • The manager has a short range view; the leader has a long range perspective.

  • The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why

  • The manager has his/her eye always on the bottom line; the leader has his/her eye on the horizon.

  • The manager immitates; the leader originates

  • The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it.

  • The manager is a classic good soldier; the leader is his/her own person

  • The manager does things right; the leader does the right thing.

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