The Difference Between a Leader and a Manager – Which are You?

Leadership has been defined as being about influence, and Management has been defined as being about authority.  Which is right for your business?

John Kotter, the Harvard Academic, maintains that Leaders are inspiring and successfully promote new directions whereas Managers take care of today’s business, getting things done by executing the directions.

People choose to follow Leaders who are seen as inspiring and people orientated but are required to follow a Manager who is seen as controlling and task focused!

But surely this view is over simplistic?!

The qualities required by both Leaders and Managers are not necessarily mutually exclusive for one or the other.

boss v leader

To be a good Leader or Manager both need to have a degree of inspirational skill.

Whereas, an inspiring Leader might move people to change direction, an inspiring Manager will move people to exert more effort to get a job done!

As a Manager you do need to be a leader to get things done and as a Leader you do not need to be a manager to motivate and get people to follow. Realistically it all comes down to the individual’s personality and how they interact with the people.

Leaders can inspire and get people to follow, however without the skills to get things done, everything will be just words.

Managers on the other hand, with or without the qualities of Leadership are still able to maintain the important tasks at hand.

One could argue that it is better to be a Manager with the qualities of a Leader, who will create the better task force – Leadership qualities being the added bonus to have, but you don’t necessarily need them.

The key element is the individual characteristics of the individual involved and how they influence their people and the people around them, and in turn how those people respond. 

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