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What is the Difference Between a Manager and A Leader?

September 14th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Since the beginning of time, humans have figured out that together everyone achieves more.  Together, they could create a group environment and split up the work load.  The team was born.  A team doesn’t work strictly in the business environment.  It works any time people need to get together to do anything, with an objective and goal.  Once teams were formed, it was a natural progression to have someone designated to be the head of the team, also known as managers or leaders.

Something interesting happened.  There became two different philosophies for being the head of a team.  For the sake of keeping it simple let’s call one type of head, a manager and the type, a leader.  This designation has nothing to do with a title.  A person can have a title called a manager and still be a leader.  A leader might not have an official title at all.

There is an obvious distinction even in the name.  A manager, manages people.  A leader, leads people.  The first, gets the job done by pushing people towards the goal.  The leader accomplishes their objectives by being out in front, pulling people.  They are in front, for their team to see, slicing through the obstacles they meet on the way to reaching their team goals.

There are many differences between the two, but today, I am going to cover only 4.  They are:

1.  Managers and leaders can answer to someone higher in the hierarchy.  When a manager meets with frustration they pass the frustration down to their team.  They pass the positives up to their higher up as a way to get kudos for a job well done.  During their times of frustration, a leader passes only positives down to the team.  This keeps their team positively charged and motivated.  A leader only takes their frustrations to their higher up for guidance and as their relief valve.

2.  A manager leads the team as a way to make a living.  They are not particularly enamored with the job or the goals.  They put in their time and earn their paycheck.  A leaders finds a cause, a reason why they are leading their team.  They become passionately engaged in the team goals.  The paycheck or money they earn is just a byproduct of helping people get what they want.

3.  A manager changes their principles to suit the business they are in.  They can justify their actions as a way to get the job done, even when it conflicts with what they believe in.  A leader believes in their principles and the business must conform to those principles.  They believe in the highest principles in life and in business.  They are a living example of what they believe.

4.  One of the biggest differences is, leaders are remembered in history.  Great leaders are memorialized even if it is only in the eyes of their team.  Can you think of one great manager who has made a difference in history?  Thinking of great leaders can go on and on; George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., etc.

When we are put in charge of a team, whether by the judgment of higher ups or by destiny, we have the choice to manager or lead.  It is up to the individual to know what is in their heart and fits them best.

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