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The Difference Between a Leader and a Manager

Ms. Inglish is a successful employment & training pro, setting Midwest regional records with tens of thousands placed in gainful employment.

Explore the qualities of a good manager and how leadership fits into the picture.

Explore the qualities of a good manager and how leadership fits into the picture.

Development Is Required for Advancing on the Job

Leadership qualities are characteristics that propel a manager upward in the company to a long-term career as a leader. These qualities produce increased business results for the company and for the customers or clients that it serves.

Why Does Growth Stop?

Regardless of company and department dynamics, some managers remain stymied in the same occupational title and pay level for decades. They become "too valuable in their positions to replace" and "not valuable enough" as assets for the administration to further develop and kick up the ladder to better wages and more responsibility.

Such professional development may be viewed as a risky gamble by leadership. Training costs and replacement costs to develop a manager may be too formidable as well.

Leaders stand out with good ideas.

Leaders stand out with good ideas.

Restructuring for Efficiency

We have seen the portrayal in literature and on-screen of the frustrated, hardworking manager who toils around the clock in rolled-up shirtsleeves. In fact, this is a solid stereotype. Such a hands-on manager can be inspiring to subordinates, but they can also work themselves into illness. He or she likely could accomplish more for the company by delegating duties and leading subordinates into a network that is structured for optimal results.

Some characteristics of managers and leaders

Some characteristics of managers and leaders

Manager Development

Leader. Leading. Leadership. One of these words might be the first that comes to mind when someone asks themselves, "What qualities make a good manager?" That word might or might not be part of any individual person that is a manager. Not all managers lead. Some do best in taking direction, not providing it.

Some people may think that a manager and a leader are actually the same, but they are not necessarily identical. An effective manager will have leadership qualities, and management skill is only one facet of leadership.

Inspiring Others

A leader possesses a natural set of talents that inspire people to follow, be loyal, and produce. Some managers have these qualities, but others do not possess them or have them to a degree that can be enhanced through training and coaching. Ongoing professional development targets that need, and a good alternative is self-improvement training through books, online materials, a career coach, a counselor, a job club, a professional organization, or other entities and resources.

Those managers that do not have specific leadership qualities and some who do not receive guidance to draw them out often work much harder than their subordinates. They may even become workaholics and may become resentful of subordinates.

A leader must be able to handle and channel stress in and out of the workplace.

A leader must be able to handle and channel stress in and out of the workplace.

Functions of a Manager

In some instances, a manager is a babysitter with a glorified title. This might be someone that accepts the title "manager" and, by doing so, helps to lower an organizational framework for a group of people. This establishes a pecking order in a type of informal vertical team.

If the manager in the group does not use leadership qualities to their best advantage, the dynamics of the workgroup may change for the worse. Murmuring begins, production lowers, and people quit. Sometimes a manager is actually a front-line worker, paid just a bit more than subordinates in order to set a faster, more productive work pace. In factories of the early 20th century, these individuals were called "straw bosses."

I have known managers that earned only five cents per hour more than their subordinates yet produced 50% more work output. This is not fair. A manager and a leader are not necessarily the same. Effective management is a skill needed by leaders in order to be effective and to rise in the workplace to higher, more responsible, and better-paying jobs in a lifelong career.

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Read More From Toughnickel

What Is Leadership?

Leadership is one characteristic of an effective manager. The best goal of a manager is to maximize work output for the company. To do so, effective managers must:

  • Organize
  • Plan and schedule
  • Hire, staff, develop, and fire as needed
  • Direct assigned operations
  • Control production and costs
  • Act as a role model, perhaps by working in production himself, as needed

At times, leadership is not even required in management - very self-motivated teams do not always need a central leader (this is more like a democratic horizontal team). Other times, a natural leader may arise in a workgroup and is not the manager. This may result in conflict.

Point of View

  • Managers often think in terms of production and
  • Leaders think in terms of the future.

Managers may follow manuals and quotas, while leaders follow their own vision and innovation.

  • Managers work while leaders think and create.

Managers are often a cog in the company wheel of production, while leaders are outside production and stand out in their differences.

Best Effective Leader Skills

Aside from the foregoing discussion, effective leaders need these skills:

I CEEE CAT (I see cat.)

  • Integrity
  • Competence
  • Effective, Appropriate, and Timely Communication
  • Enthusiasm/Energy
  • Empathy
  • Calm During Crises - Confidence and skillful problem-solving
  • Ability to Delegate
  • Team-Building Skills

Additional characteristics, skills, and personal qualities will enhance the work of and the results achieved by both leaders and managers. The above list is a very good foundation for building an effective, growing job personality. Such a person will enable workers to continue to grow in their current job, acquire new skills, gain promotions, become a leader, and move up the corporate hierarchy.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: Is it correct that not all leaders are good managers, but all managers are leaders?

Answer: No, all managers are not leaders. In fact, some managers feel like waitstaff and babysitters because they organize, coordinate, and schedule people, activities, and things, but never have the opportunity to plan or to produce visions for the future. Some leaders are no good at scheduling, etc., so they hire managers.

© 2008 Patty Inglish MS


doddid from Bandung Indonesia on October 04, 2012:

nice sharing :) Leader is inspiring people... Manager is directing people

KE Morgan from Arizona on May 20, 2012:

Leading is the art of motivating others towards common goals whereas management is merely supervising them while they work towards those goals. Leadership is rarely based on being in a position of authority.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on May 03, 2012:

Hi Damien,

I'm glad this can be of use for you. A lot of managers believe they are higher-level leaders, but actually do not understand the role of a leader. You may be able to help the public to see that.

Damien Game on May 03, 2012:

This page has given me great direction for an assignment of mine, where I am required to compare and contrast managers and leaders. Thanks a lot for the resource!!

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on February 01, 2012:

Congratulations on your field of study!

keeshang on February 01, 2012:

:))It encouraging me to study hard , because of your comments ..I LEARNED A LOT,,and makes me feel more interesting in my course.

sam on January 09, 2012:

think of a few supervisors you've worked for and with over the years. Would you say they were effective managers? Also, would you say they were effective leaders? Were any of those individuals a good leader, but a poor manager? What about vice versa?

cema on January 08, 2012:

Thank so much.. It was vry useful

Stella Nig on November 20, 2011:

Leaders are found in a group or clubs but managers are found in a business organization or company.

mughal on November 19, 2011:

yes i agree with the thoughts of Colin Powell

Roy Kauheva on November 14, 2011:

Well, the distinction is correctly illustrated.But some leaders think they are god fathers and they know everything therefore there is no need to listen to their subordnates.Where do such leaders fall?

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on September 20, 2011:

Could be, but many times, managers are like babysitters that are refused promotion because they babysit the operation too well. They must quit and go elsewhere to be placed into higher levels of respsonsibility and pay.

Derrick Ampadu on September 20, 2011:

Management and leadership are often used interchangeably in this dispensation and even decades before, but there is a clear distinction between these two areas of studies. Concisely, leadership is an aspect of management.

Jason Castro Yanday on September 20, 2011:

Thanks a lot of this article and the writer gave me a lot of idea about the difference of Leader and Manager.tnx


Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on September 17, 2011:

Thanks, nessie - hope it really helps solidifyy your work and gives you material for your own best future. Best wishes! -- Patty

nessie on September 17, 2011:

thumbs up Patty!!! such a great piece....!!! learnt so much today!!! n oh, so much help in working on my assignment :-)

VICTOR on September 15, 2011:


Mr Malik on September 13, 2011:

i am very pleased because this info help me to much

ukddon on September 09, 2011:

Thanks alot.The info makes a better tomorrow.Bless You.

maxwell churchez on September 08, 2011:

please,i want to ask a question"are all managers leaders?"..

maxwell churchez on September 08, 2011:

i really like has helped me so much..thank u

nana serwaah osei-adjei on September 06, 2011:

so can i ask this question that "are all managers leaders?"

dandy on September 03, 2011:

gud inf

Ravi Singh from India on August 11, 2011:

Very nice and useful info.I like this hub.

princessmyat on March 02, 2011:

'thanks to your ideas.. it helps me know the difference between a leader and a manager. actually it's my assignment..

syamini bascaran on February 08, 2011:

nice and clear understanding article tanx

saki on November 23, 2010:

nice thanks a lot

nobs on October 26, 2010:

a leader thinks while a manager sits

busari ibrahim on September 25, 2010:

yes,thank you all.but which one is most important

yukah.29 on August 24, 2010:

tnx for the information..about leader and manager..b'coz this article helped me a lot of my ass. tnx again.....

Baskaran Nair on July 28, 2010:

I really wonder how many of us have actually come across the Fable on "Who is more important?". This 'story' is about the different parts of our body arguing. It surely teaches all of us irrespective of what positions we hold in an organization that in the first instance this question or even the thought of it should not arise !Eventually the moral of that story points out that ego is the cause of ALL the disaster! "A great many people think they are thinking when they are actually rearranging their prejudices."

luthfi on July 22, 2010:

this page teach me a lot about the my college,i often wonder who is more important..manager or leader??i think both is important because we have to co opperate,work together and teamwork for success in some organization..

france on July 01, 2010:

but for me leader before manager because without leader there will no good plan will made... so leader first to become a manager.

mulunesh on April 18, 2010:

it enhnce me more

manageresponsible on April 04, 2010:

If all managers are a good leader, then they will be that effective and all will succeed in place...great post!

wachara Jevence on February 01, 2010:

Leaders are always looking for betterand more efficient ways of doing things,A maneger just accepts the organizations makeup and culture and does all that he or she can to cement the company's status quo.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on November 16, 2009:

Thanks for reading and making great comments, Friends!

kat go - It is awesome that this page could help you with an assignment.

kat go on November 16, 2009:

wow... this article helped me a lot in my assignment!! thanks for your brilliant ideas patty.. =)

TrudyVan Curre from South Africa on October 15, 2009:

You are correct. A good manager inspires and has a productive workforce.

huck tooey from Vineland NJ on September 24, 2009:

Good Hub....My 2 cents....I think a manager has employees working for him doing as he/she says never questioning just doing..While a good manaager aks questions takes suggestions and ultimatly leads his CO-WORKERS to success.

Praise in public.... Disipline in private

MICHAEL ASABERE on September 21, 2009:

I think manager has subbodinates under him whiles a leader has followers

david11oyd from Sydney Aust. on September 16, 2009:

Management is how the world is today... Leadership is how we would like the world tomorrow!

ryanhailee on August 19, 2009:

A manager thinks on terms of this is what i want to happen?

A leader would say this is where we are going and this is how I see us getting there, what are your suggestions to getting there? Thinking like this will not only show a future vision and also inspires the team by making them part of the solution to making the future goals.

A manager does things the right way while a manager does the right things. on July 13, 2009:

A manager does things the right way while a leader does the right things.

lead365 from Florida on June 17, 2009:

"Managers often think in terms of production and Leaders think in terms of the future."

What a great qoute. This is a good hub. It's great to read others who see the difference and are wanting to empower others.

pasha on April 13, 2009:


ontheway on April 02, 2009:

Manager Leader

very good, I support you, come on , welcome to my hub!

Kreg Enderson from Phoenix on April 01, 2009:

I would say that we need to be both a "manager" and a "leader". Two hats, both required for us to perform well. Leadership is about inspiration, management is more about "task focus".

mobi on March 07, 2009:

a manager can be leader but a leader can not be a manager

kappa022 from Florida on February 16, 2009:

Another quality hub, excellent tips all managers should know, well done!

Elena. from Madrid on December 26, 2008:

"Managers work, while Leaders think and create." Gotta say, thinking and creating is also strenuous WORK! Laugh! Jokes aside, this is very informative. In my experience, though, some managers have aptitude to learn the trade of leadership, but mostly, leaders have it in them. Regardless, it's great that some of the "qualities" of leadership can actually be learned. This ought to help a lot of managers! Well done!

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on September 25, 2008:

Thank you , Percy! I believe that increasing numbers of managers are attending leadship seminars and are emerging form the nose-to-the-grindstone-only mode to look up and around with a vision for success. I hope they ALL do this.

Percy on September 25, 2008:

Sorry for the mis print above. I mean that If a manager is not a part of the solution, then they would be a part of the problem. Strive for excellence.

Percy on September 25, 2008:

Managers can be leaders if the apply them selves to the objectives and vision/goals of the organization. If they are part of the solution they are a part of the problem.


jatin on September 06, 2008:

all managers are leaders or all leaders are managers

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on July 24, 2008:

Hi Don, I like your take on the "mote." Good managers are indeed valuable teachers. Thanks so much for visitng!

Don Simkovich from Pasadena, CA on July 24, 2008:

You did a nice job outlining the dilemma that managers face - being in the same role -- too valuable to demote and yet not valuable enough to promote. They're stuck in a "mote" . . . although an effective manager can take pride in being like a good teacher, I believe. They can develop the attributes of others rising up in an organization.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on May 30, 2008:

Glad we could be of help, Benny. Please let us know how it works out for you!

BENNY on May 30, 2008:

very timely and useful.. I need this for my training...

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on May 14, 2008:

Hello marisuewrites! I appreciate your comments a lot. Good input!

marisuewrites from USA on May 14, 2008:

This is great info..well thought out. I believe a manager inspires, leads by example, makes decisions with compassion but not to sacrifice the company in the process; puts people before profit at least some of the time; understands that some may produce to a level of surpassing the management's expectations and allows that to happen by not being territorial.

Many other you have stated....excellent for thought. =)

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on May 13, 2008:

I hope you post some stories about/from your blog!

an4u on May 13, 2008:

Thanks for the post, it was very comprehensive.

manager is the one who get things done through people while a leader is the one who influence or transact others to attain desired objectives.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on May 01, 2008:

Hi steph! Thanks for coming by and posting!

When I graduated from high school, I believed that the harder you worked and the more you got done well, the higher raises and faster promotions you'd get. I was disapppointed that this was not the case. So, to get ahead, we have to look up from the grindstone and use some vision, as well as work hard. :)

Stephanie Marshall from Bend, Oregon on May 01, 2008:

Total thumbs up - once again, an excellent resource, Patty. Thought provoking as well. Thanks - Steph

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on April 29, 2008:

Thanks for all the comments! Some nagagers have leadership skills and others have not so many. In the latter case, what is required is a redirection fo thought and action. It's very different, noe-to-the-grindstone vs leadership!

Richard Townsend on April 29, 2008:

Great article: can I add my thoughts (actually its an old training article I wrote)...


Traditional management concerned itself with supervision; checking, delegating, controlling, inputs and ensuring staff did what they are told. Managers where seen as fitting along a style line between laissez-faire and autocratic, with the ideal supposedly near the middle as a democrat.

Today the issue is more complex and with an empowered workforce our style is less relevant and as managers need to become ‘more things’ to a more demanding workforce. The concept of managers needing to fulfill a leader role is prevalent. Some even argue managers are no longer required and it’s only leaders that will drive the companies of the future. This is fine in theory however corporate culture can take a long time to change and most managers are expected to fulfill the duel role. This creates inner conflict as the ideals of the two disciplines are at opposite ends of the spectrum.

MANAGEMENT is about: CONTROLLING…don’t leave the department, check what they’re up to, define competence requirements and ‘title and position give authority’ V.’s LEADERSHIP, which is about: FREEDOM…finding ways to encourage new ideas, creativity and initiative by letting ‘followers’ participate in a flexible situation where authority is shared.

MANAGEMENT is about: SURVIVING…dealing with short-term operational needs and processes whilst strictly controlling costs and watching the budget V.’s LEADERSHIP, which is about: GROWTH… to be achieved through identifying new (and possibly risky) ventures that could be the basis for future income (and perhaps losses)

MANAGEMENT is about: MANAGING… instructing, allocating, delegating, following up, organizing and directing V.’s LEADERSHIP, which is about: LEADING… inspiring, helping, encouraging teamwork, coaching, supporting and aligning

MANAGEMENT is about: ADMINISTRATING… overseeing activities, processes & individual tasks, control & supervision V.’s LEADERSHIP, which is about: PLANNING…seeking process improvement, implementing change, agreeing goals and empowering followers


Worth a thought!


solarshingles from london on April 28, 2008:

Management vs Leadership. How to combine both skills for the beast possible impact? Well, that is not so easy and it takes a bit more thinking and a bit more acting, but it is very worthwhile in any endeavour.

LanceHarris from Sydney, Australia on April 28, 2008:

It's obvious without reading this article, that managers are subdued as their act of duty, within a workplace and can be very uneasy and unpleasant people to be around.

Where as leaders, with leadership qualities always show the epitome of what is publically seen as "good" in societies eye.

I feel good for my assumption, hope it was somewhat similar.

Hazok from Malaysia on April 28, 2008:

Excellent as always. thanks.

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