Both managers and leaders are important to the success of a business — they offer excellent communication and people skills, an ability to motivate others and a commitment to the organization’s success. Yet these professionals play slightly different roles in the workplace. Let’s explore the difference between a leader and a manager.

Leader vs. Manager: The Difference

Leaders are visionaries. They encourage people and motivate team members to reach a shared vision. On the other hand, managers plan, coordinate and organize. They deal with how to get goals accomplished and often handle metrics. Their role is to make sure progress happens.

Leaders and managers do share several traits, including:

  • Communication: Leaders must be able to communicate their vision to ensure it becomes reality. Managers handle teams and projects by effectively communicating goals and metrics.
  • Motivation: Leaders inspire people to move towards a vision. Managers, too, need to communicate in a way that motivates teams to act.
  • Delegation: Managers and leaders cannot handle all the tasks on their plates. They need to determine how to delegate tasks and ensure all work gets done.
  • Growth mindset: Both leaders and managers need to be lifelong learners. They accomplish this by staying up to date on their industry and developing their leadership and communication skills.

Traits That Differentiate Leaders From Managers

A strong leader stands out from a manager by exhibiting the following characteristics:

  • Creativity: Leaders must think outside the box and be willing to take risks. In some cases, organizations need to take a chance and try something new to achieve an exciting new project or opportunity. Visionary leaders help make this happen.
  • Flexibility: Leaders need to be agile and embrace feedback in order to adjust course. If one plan of action does not work, they must be able to pivot and adapt to change quickly.
  • Responsibility: Leaders lead by example. They inspire others in the organization by taking responsibility and showing commitment to a project.

Competencies That a Strong Manager Exhibits

Managers offer many critical traits that differentiate them from leaders, including:

  • Organization: Managers must be hyper-organized. They are always planning forward and often work with the details of specific projects and opportunities. They need to properly manage the team’s time and resources to stay on track.
  • Strategic thinking: Managers think analytically and critically to take ideas and transform them into actionable plans. They must convert a leader’s vision into strategy and action.
  • Problem solving: Managers often need to course-adjust and solve problems to achieve larger goals.

Combining Leadership and Management Traits

Whether you lead an entire company or manage a small team, you need both effective leadership and management skills. In many ways, the skills of both professionals overlap. Yet, in the end, leaders follow a grand vision to inspire teams, and managers have a practical idea of how to make their grand plans a reality.

Whether your organization needs leaders or managers, Reaction Search International has a 25-step executive placement process to help you find top-level candidates. Contact Reaction Search International to get started.