Many people use the words management and leadership interchangeably without giving much thought to the differences between the two. While these differences may seem subtle, it’s important to understand what it means to be a manager as opposed to being a leader within an organization. I feel that having a deeper insight into the differences could help us become more successful at both.
Let’s begin by discussing a basic definition of both. Managing means to direct and be responsible for subordinates and/or resources. Leading is more about coming up with a vision, motivating and inspiring people to follow you and helping them buy in to your vision. Leadership looks at the long-term, not just the here and now.
Below we will briefly look at some of the tasks as well as differences between managing and leading.
A manager in an organization typically is focused on running the day-to-day operations of a business and concentrate on the business remaining competitive, efficient and effective. In addition to directly supervising subordinates, they develop, monitor, and evaluate performance criteria, establish budgets, and design action plans for the organization.
On the other hand, a leader in an organization is not necessarily involved with the day-to-day operations and/or running of the business. Oftentimes leaders do not have any direct subordinates, but instead are responsible for creating and maintaining the company’s overall strategic mission and vision. A leader is the visionary who looks ahead to where they want to see the business in five year, or ten years. Leaders inspire employees to follow them and buy into their vision. Leaders motivate employees by acting as role models, build a sense of community within the organization as well as with the local community, and create an organizational culture and environment where employees can both grow and develop themselves both as individuals as well as employees.
While both are important to an organization, the biggest difference between being a manager and a leader is the way you motivate people. Generally speaking, employees follow a manager because they have to, but follow a leader because they choose to.
Making the leap from manager to leader is possible. Again, while the differences may be subtle, a newly promoted leader just needs to focus on the key traits below:
- Employee morale
- Empowering employees
- Work/life balance of employees
- Effective teambuilding
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