Realistic Perspectives

A concentration of material and thoughts focused around leadership, values, ethics, efficiency and effectiveness

Leaders vs Managers

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The purpose of this post is for you to decide if you’re a manager or a leader. But before you proceed down the path of self realization please remember to be open minded as you may have to often compare yourself to the profile of a manager or a leader to conclude on if you are more of a manager or more of a leader. Remember, you have to be able to self criticize in order to discover areas of lacking so that you can apply corrective action on the path to becoming the perfect leader.

Personality Types

Good managers tend to seek comfort and stability both in their personal and professional lives. They are generally adverse to risk and prefer to preserve the status quo. Finally, those who do well in a management position tend to be detailed-oriented and good at things that require organization.

Effective leaders, on the other hand, are quite comfortable with significant amounts of risk and change as long as it helps them pursue their goals. They also naturally embrace the difficulties and challenges that they must overcome in order to achieve these goals. Finally, those who excel in leadership positions tend to be charismatic free-thinkers who are more comfortable thinking outside of the box instead of in it.


The goal of an effective manager is to maximize production within the current system of an organization through careful organizing, planning, and controlling. In other words, managers are trying to get the job at hand done.

The goal of an effective leader is to work on a system instead of in it. They are not just concerned with getting the job done, they seek to enhance the whole process in a way that will benefit both the employees and the company as a whole.

Qualifications and Experience

Generally, the management ranks are filled with people who have slowly worked their way up the corporate ladder. Good managers tend to bring to their positions a lot of technical experience and a solid understanding of how the systems in their company work.

On the other hand, it is possible that an effective leader will lack much of the experience that management has acquired. What leaders bring instead is a fresh outlook, new ideas, and inspiration.


Success in management means sticking to company policy and working on maximizing output while reducing inefficiency. Managers take a formal and rational approach to their jobs. They rely heavily on their own abilities to analyze data, delegate work, and in general control the flow of production and performance.

Success in leadership is defined by the leader’s ability to transform the business and empower its employees. Leaders are radical thinkers who follow their own intuition to seek out new opportunities. In order to be successful, leaders will enlist the help and support of the employees in their charge.

Relationship to Employees

Managers generally take an authoritarian approach when it comes to their subordinates. In other words, a manager says and the employees are expected to do as they are told. At the end of the day, it is also the manager who takes the credit for a job well done.

A leader, on the other hand, seeks to inspire, coach and empower; people will naturally and loyally follow. Unlike the manager, a leader’s approach to employees is less formal. As mentioned above, leaders are more open to enlisting the help and support of of their followers and bestowing credit on others where credit is due.

Adding to the previous here are some additional interesting difference.

  • The manager administers; the leader innovates.
  • The manager is a copy; the leader is an original.
  • The manager maintains; the leader develops.
  • The manager focuses on systems and structure; the leader focuses onpeople.
  • The manager relies on control; the leader inspires trust.
  • The manager accepts reality; the leader investigates it.
  • 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 or her eye always on the bottom line; the leader has his or her eye on the horizon.
  • The manager imitates; the leader originates.
  • The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it.
  • The manager is the classic good soldier; the leader is his or her own person.
  • The manager does things right; the leader does the right thing.

Written by Talal Cassim

June 19, 2010 at 6:28 pm

Posted in Leadership

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