Differences Between a Manager and a Leader


If you want to be a leader, you have to know the difference between managing you people, and leading a team. There are some simple things you can look for to help determine if you are a manager or a leader.

Create Value

Managing is about counting value, not creating value. You might even reduce the potential value by over managing those that might actual contribute to the value of a company or project. If you are asking a programmer to report the lines of code every hour, or explain the purpose of several lines of code each day, you are potentially reducing his ability to produce more code in a given day. If you are distracting the programmer, you are deducting the value of the programmer to the company. Leading by example and leading by enabling people are the hallmarks of action-based leadership.

Influence over Power

Everyone knows managers have subordinates, but did you know that leaders have followers? As a managers you create a circle of power. A leader will create a circle of influence. How do you know if you are creating a circle of power, or a circle of influence? Count the number of people outside your reporting hierarchy who come to you for expert advice or your opinion on a subject. If you have people outside your department or company seeking your expertise, then they probably see you as a leader.

Leading People

A manager is someone who controls a group of people to get something done. A leader has the ability to influence and motivate a group of people to contribute to a common goal. Your ability to convince people to contribute to a common goal by inspiring and enabling people to want to get something done marks you as a leader of people.

If you think about the great leaders throughout history, you will see great people that convinced groups of people that they have a common goal and walked shoulder to shoulder with them to complete a common vision.  The ability to work with someone until the common goal was accomplished is important to leadership.


A manager threatens punishment for poor behavior, and provides rewards for good behavior. A leader inspires people by telling them what can be accomplished, and helps guide them to a common goal, pushing those people to stretch their abilities so they can do great things to help the team reach that common goal. A leader lifts their followers by building on their abilities and guiding them toward the right direction.


You and I both want to work with people who lift us up instead of dragging us down. A leader makes sure to seek out the positive traits in their people, helping to spread optimism throughout your organization by using positive reenforcement.


You have to have a rigid adherence to impeccable integrity. The top thing that employees want from their leaders is integrity. That means you have to be honest, candid,  forthright, and fair at all times and to all people. You must always treat people in the same way that you would want to be treated, and never violate your integrity for immediate gain.


2 thoughts on “Differences Between a Manager and a Leader”

  1. Valuable information. Lucky me I discovered your web site unintentionally, and I am stunned why this accident didn’t took place earlier! I bookmarked it.


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