5 Huge Differences Between Leaders and Managers – (Part 1 of 2)

Whether you helm a massive division of a multinational company or work 70 hours a week as their repressible CEO of a small, growing business, you need to recruit, inspire and direct the people who make your operation happen. But what would you call your role? Are you a “leader” or a “manager” or both or something else?

This question is not just boring business semantics – it’s a question that speaks to the heart of what inspiring people is all about. On the one hand, you are a functionary who needs to coordinate and collaborate. On the other hand, you are in some ways a “guru” for your team– someone who elevates business goals to achieve a nobler purpose.

Where on this spectrum do you devote most of your time and energy? Let’s explore some distinctions.

1. A leader has “followers,” while a manager has “employees” or “subordinates.”

Is this a distinction without a difference? No. People follow those who inspire them to greatness. The idea of having “subordinates,” on the other hand, requires a power dynamic based on authority. No inspiration necessary.

You can get your core subordinates to do something for you (or stop doing things you don’t want done) using a directive task issuing approach. Getting followers, though, requires an entirely different toolkit. You need to speak to a nobler purpose, appeal to values and represent ideals bigger than yourself, your team or even your company.

2. Managers instinctively reduce or limit risk; leaders embrace risk as an inevitable, worthy element of the enterprise.

Not all managers must be, by definition, conservative “bean counters.” But the act of managing is, in some sense, a radically conservative act. You are focused on efficiency, standards, and repeatability. Leaders, on the other hand, know that there are times when you must shake things up and break the mold, both for the health of the enterprise and for esprit de corps.

3. Managers tend to have an authoritarian, “top down” mentality about directing people; whereas, leaders understand intuitively that their power (or at least much of it) flows from the bottom up.

The leader of any movement (political, spiritual, business, etc.) must constantly take the pulse of his or her people and adjust strategies and messaging accordingly. A manager, on the other hand, typically dominates and imposes messaging.

Transitioning from “just” being a manager to being an inspired leader requires unconventional insights. Sign up for our newsletter today (below) to understand these distinctions in much greater detail for the purpose of obtaining real results (in terms of ROI) for your company or team.

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