Leadership vs Management: What’s the Difference ?

leadership vs management

Are you a leader or a manager? How do you know? What is the difference between leadership and management? And most importantly, why is it important?

Management and leadership are two concepts that are frequently misunderstood. We mistakenly think of them interchangeably as one and the same thing: when we think of a manager, we frequently think of a leader, and when we think of a leader, we think of a manager. It is possible for the same person to play both roles, but this is not always the case.

Some leaders are not managers. And good managers are not necessarily good leaders. But for a team or company to succeed, both roles are necessary. A leader needs to give team members the big picture to help them buy into the company’s vision, while a manager needs to support them in their daily work and help them excel. Therefore, managers and leaders play a key role in improving teamwork and collaboration in the workplace.

Learning to distinguish between these roles can help you develop skills for each, whether you are a manager, a leader, or both.

In this article, we will first introduce you to the basic principles of leadership and management by objectives. Then, we will see how these two roles are similar before focusing on what differentiates them.

But first, let’s start with these definitions from the Larousse dictionary:

Difference between a leader and a manager

Leaders definition Manager definition
“Person who, within a group, takes most of the initiative, leads other group members, and holds command.” “Management Specialist, A set of techniques for leading, organizing and managing a business.”

And here is another definition by co-founder and CEO “DUSTIN MOSKOVITZ”

“The role of a manager is an operational one: setting and re-evaluating priorities, deciding on hires, firings and compensation, etc.; whereas the role of a leader is more like that of a coach or spiritual guide. The leader is there to maintain the energy within a team, to help or encourage its members to progress and to ensure that they are all moving in the same direction. He or she represents a robust and stable pillar in a changing environment.”

What are the key skills expected of a leader?

Competent leaders inspire their teams to contribute by setting a good example, communicating goals and inspiring action. They must also motivate their team members to achieve the company’s goals, so they don’t just dream about them. If the company were a ship, leaders chart the course while keeping an eye on the horizon. Among the qualities most required of a leader are:

The ability to motivate:

With his energy and enthusiasm, a true leader pushes his team to achieve the unattainable. In many ways, he or she motivates them to do great things.


A good leader gives free rein to his creativity, he constantly challenges himself, just to think outside the box. But he must not only focus on his own creativity. He must also cultivate and develop the creativity of his collaborators.

Mentoring skills:

A leader’s ability to inspire the best performance from his team is a key component of his skills. Instead of simply delegating tasks to team members, he or she coaches and guides them to excel.

Conflict and problem solving:

One of the most valued qualities in a leader is problem solving and conflict resolution. A good leader needs to solve different types of problems, at the strategic and conceptual levels.

As an example, you list potential problems that the team might encounter by putting in place important organizational goals and appropriate strategies.

Risk Taking:

Leadership is about taking calculated risks. As a leader, you take risks but must support the risks taken by your team. Your questioning of what has been learned is essential to making things happen in their organization.

Being a leader without being a manager?

Regardless of their status within the company, leaders inspire and motivate those around them.

On the other hand, non-managerial leaders are present in all companies, especially those with a decentralized organizational structure. In the latter, the decision-maker for each decision is clearly identified, although it is not always a manager.

As a result, these companies often benefit from rapid execution and greater employee involvement. They can develop more leaders at all organizational levels because of their distinctive organizational structure.

What are the key skills expected of a manager?

You may be a good manager but not a leader and really that is not an insult. Being a manager is a feat in itself, you put your teams on the right track by keeping them informed of everything that is going on.

You are the team’s load-bearing wall, doing your best to foster team spirit and collaboration.

While leaders are looking at the horizon, managers are reading the map. It’s their job to plan the right course of action to achieve the goals and to explain to employees how to get there.

Feedback Culture:

As a manager, you need to spend time with your team to help them develop their skills. The best way to do this is to give clear and relevant feedback. Further coaching and feedback sessions will then help guide and support each team member in exploiting these opportunities and turning them into assets.

The ability to encourage professional development:

Managers not only have a priority to maximize the performance of their teams, but also to support the professional growth and career opportunities of each member. This may include helping to determine the desired job scenario five years from now or advising on how to develop specific skills.

Ability to delegate:

Skilled managers delegate tasks to the appropriate person rather than always doing the work themselves. Their job is to delegate tasks to the right people, not to take over the job.

Organization and planning:

To become a good manager, you need to develop project management skills such as planning and organization. These allow you to give your team a clear overview of the work they are going to do and to help them in case of priority or deadline adjustments.

Problem solving:

Managers need to be able to solve problems, as do leaders. These problems do not necessarily have the same level of complexity. To ensure that his or her team produces the best possible work, a good manager uses his or her skills to solve obstacles that arise during the execution of tasks. For example, if a project’s schedule has been altered, he or she reviews quarterly priorities and helps identify dependencies that delay the work by scheduling a work meeting.

Ability to build team cohesion:

A manager appreciates the value of his or her team as a whole, not just the value of individual team members.

Part of his job is to develop opportunities for team building. He or she should encourage opportunities for interaction and allow team members to get to know each other as often as possible. This will make everyone feel more comfortable, which will promote teamwork.

Being a manager rather than a leader?

Each of us is unique, and some people find it difficult to assume the role of a leader. However, there are also many benefits to focusing primarily on the manager’s position.

Although they provide stability and direction, managers are not always motivated to improve the business as a whole.

Because their team comes first, managers are much more altruistic than leaders. Junior managers often complain that leading a team is a difficult job. This is because managers are constantly thinking of new ways to coach and support their team members, in addition to producing effective work themselves.

Have you recently taken on the role of manager? Before you try to assert yourself as a leader, it’s a good idea to put your team’s needs first and give them the support they need.

After all, focusing on your management style now doesn’t preclude doing so later, when you’re more ready to do so.

At the crossroads of leadership and management

Leaders and managers have one thing in common: they want the best for their team and their company. Their goal is therefore the same despite different approaches.

A common point that unites managers and leaders: both want and aim for the best for the company. Their goal is equivalent despite their different approaches.

Here are some of the actions taken by managers and leaders:

Connecting daily activities to business goals:

For a team to function at its best, team members must understand how their daily activities contribute to team and business goals. Once this connection is made, they will be able to prioritize the appropriate tasks to produce high-value work.

Focus on two-way communication:

Two-way communication is the best way to ensure that everyone feels heard and valued when you present a goal to your entire team or address a specific team member in a one-on-one meeting. When the opportunity arises, practice two-way communication using this procedure: ask for everyone’s input, review it, and then act on it.

Get involved in team development:

Managers and leaders offer their teams a variety of coaching and support. Whether it’s through mentoring, coaching, career discussions or one-on-one meetings, they are committed to helping everyone excel.

What is the difference between a Leader and a Manager?

Despite many similarities, managers and leaders often operate in different ways. Here are three scenarios where each will likely adopt a different tactic, but always with the same intention: to support their team as much as possible.

Creating and sustaining company culture

Company culture is a fantastic way to keep teams motivated and help them perform at their best. To improve team morale and engagement, develop it through team-building exercises, individual learning and development projects, and a reliable onboarding process for new employees.

→How can managers as well as leaders contribute?

Leaders need to spend time creating the company culture. Then they are responsible for setting an example through their various daily actions, in order to encourage all employees to participate and improve it.

The responsibility of the managers is to put into practice the norms and procedures of the corporate culture. They are also responsible for reporting to higher levels what their teams need. Then, in order to help the culture improve, leaders respond to this feedback in an appropriate way

Building a positive company culture means listening to employees and taking their feedback into account. However, according to asana’s Anatomy of Work study, only 15% of employees feel that their company listens to them.

Making Ideas Happen

Leaders not only ensure that work is done correctly, but they also place a high value on ideas in general. Their top priority is to look at the business as a whole, after which they must inform their team of how these activities affect the value of the business. With this in mind, it is essential to practice developing concepts and solutions to complex issues.

Part of a leader’s mission is to inspire his or her team and reward excellence in their work. Whether or not you have been involved in the decision-making process in your company, take the lead and help your team members understand it.

On the other hand, the manager’s responsibility is to figure out how to make ideas happen. This involves assigning people to projects, allocating resources and setting aside funds for the tasks necessary to achieve the goals. Managers assist and lead their team in the day-to-day tasks. They are often responsible for approving work and reviewing documents. Simply giving your team the freedom to focus fully on the most important work will allow you to excel in this position.

Leadership or management: Which is better?

The role of manager is not more desired than that of leader, and vice versa. You can practice both roles at the same time or focus on one role at first. The skills a leader chooses to hone depend on the needs of their team and how best to support them. But managers and leaders should strive to constantly improve their interpersonal and communication skills.

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