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The Differences Between Managers and Leaders

When you’re working in a fast-moving environment, you are either a manager or a leader. That’s what makes it easier to understand about the research.

The Differences Between Managers and Leaders

There are essentially two types of bosses, for employees that are a part of organizations around the world – more so in the US. When you’re working in a fast-moving environment, you are either a manager or a leader. That’s what makes it easier to understand about the research.

When you think about it from a rational perspective, you say – Of course there’s a big difference! Otherwise you won’t be where you were. However, what the truth is, is that there are two types of methodologies that can be switched back and forth depending on what the company’s goals are.

For example, if there are issues with attrition and project management, then a management focused approach makes sense. Or if there are issues with strategy and big picture, a “leadership” role is a better idea. It all depends on how you treat the organization.

If you take the word literally, you’re thinking about it as an organism who needs resources and energy to function. Resource management is where a manager comes in, and energy is where a leader comes in. You can create an organization that has both types of people so that you have a good balance in your hands. Or you can get a person who has a mix of these attributes. This type of approach works best in many ways.

Employee Motivation

When employees are feeling a lack of motivation, the problem could be management related or something that’s indicative of a deeper problem. When you have a leader type boss approaching the problem, they would look at the big picture and say – it’s a problem with staffing. When you have a management type person approaching it, they’d say – it’s a project completion problem. It totally depends from person to person, and the real truth may be hidden in the subjectivity. That’s where data comes in and empowers one or both types of thinking.

When an employee base is not motivated to work, it could be because of the antithesis of this paradigm. E.g. if you’re not able to get anything done, your manager could say – “focus on it harder”, vs a leader who would sit down with you and inspire you with their words. If you had a problem with client relations, then a manager would give you real world tips and strategies, while a leader would give you esoteric information.

There is no right answer to the question of which is better, because there are no clear answers in the field of management and leadership – just shades of grey until you find the goals that you were looking for.

Goal-Setting and Expectations

When thinking about the kinds of goals the company has for you, you need to understand where your skillset really lies. If it's in looking at big picture, networking and creating a better atmosphere for yourself and other people, then you should be in charge of the department from a strategist perspective. You can then assign a manager to work under you who can give you the cliff notes and help you make better decisions.

However, if you’re the manager and task-oriented type of person, then that could be your advantage as well, as you are at the centre of all activities and are basically irreplaceable. You bring in the results and ensure that it’s all going smoothly.

In the end, it depends on who’s really working and who’s not. If there isn’t a whole lot of innovation going on, then the ‘leader’ type of person is to be blamed, and if there are problems after problems then the person who needs to leave is the manager. There are people in both categories that do a great job, and who do a horrible job as well. You’ve probably met them both across the period of your lifetime.

Metrics and Mapping Responsibilities

When thinking about what metrics apply to what person, you may be hard-pressed to find similarities between the two. One’s KRA could be more on expansion, growth and representing the company in networking events. Building on your strengths could be a good move here.

For those who are managerial types, it could be the opposite. It could focus more on revenue generation, client satisfaction and team building. You become the person in charge and the one who knows what’s happening around the conference room. You’re in control in your own unique way and you have everyone’s ear as you’re the one who executes.

When you have both type of people working in your company, you need to have KRAs that reflect each of their strengths. That’s what gets them going. Also, don’t differentiate between the two in terms of pay, because each will try to become the other leading to mass confusion in the organization. You want to value both their strengths and create an equitable environment in which they can flourish.

Innovation and Execution

This could be boiled down to innovation and execution, where one person is focused on one side of the picture. When the ‘leader focuses on innovation’ they get frustrated if there isn’t enough execution happening while they’re busy working. When you’re a manager-type boss, you get frustrated if there isn’t a lot of innovation happening in the background. You want to balance the two emotions and strengths so that you can have them as your strengths.

One person can talk about innovation related strategies and build upon relationships that they’ve developed over the years. The other one can focus on getting the troops ready for a long-haul and preparing them for longer hours and harder work. One leader can inspire confidence, and one manger can execute. However, it takes a group of people to use their individual strengths to make sure that the company succeeds. If you take away one type of boss, you end up with an organization that thinks the same way.


It doesn’t matter if one person is one type of boss. It matters if you’re putting in the work and developing a system that works for you. Building upon your strengths is a better approach.

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