What is the difference between a leader and a manager?

“All managers are leaders, but all leaders are not managers” – let’s start by explaining that first.

Although the roles of leader and manager are considered to overlap, they are functionally very different from each other. Leadership is not an aspect of management. Leaders tend to follow their instincts all the time and do what they deem better for them, while the managers always try their level best to follow the set standard path which is laid down in company policy.  

What are leaders?

Leaders see a future, a goal, a purpose that excites them and in turn, they pass on this passion to other people and motivate them to develop strategies to realize the vision. They also provide resources, technological support, and other help to achieve these goals.  Needless to say, leadership is not easy; leaders have essential qualities such as vision, dedication, commitment, recognition, integrity, trust, creativity, tenacity, communication skills, and the mental commitment to take risks to realize their visions.

Who are leaders?

Companies pave the way for managers to distribute power instead of creating individual leaders. It is not easy to sail a boat against all odds with everyone on board, and that is what managers do.  To be a leader, one does not have to be a hero or a genius, but the right mix of grit, intelligence, perseverance, resilience, analytical skills, goodwill, tolerance, and hard work.  Management versus leadership


While leaders accept challenges and take risks to achieve what they think of. However, managers perform according to set standards. Managers prefer to have strategic plans that are either proven or foolproof. They achieve their desired objectives through the following key functions: planning & budgeting, problem-solving & control & organizing, and staffing. 


Researchers call a leader a being who has soul, passion, and creativity, while a manager has a reason, rationality, and perseverance. A leader is flexible, innovative, independent, inspirational, and courageous, while a manager is consultative, stabilizing, analytical, authoritative, and deliberate.

Evaluation style

Leaders are revolutionary and depend on verbal communication to make the substance of their ideas, as opposed to managers who prefer the written route. Thus, you will not find a leader who will require you to submit written assignments to evaluate your performance or assess your potential during interviews. On the other hand, managers need your work to understand your performance and past achievements. 


Managers are not expected to manage people but are tasked with providing leadership to their teams. The former influences people’s behavior, work, and efforts to achieve the set goals in a given situation, while the latter ensures that the vision materializes as people work together. 

Managing the workforce

Managers act according to the given tasks, they feel themselves liable to assign tasks to workers and ensure the work is done as per the vision set by the leader. Many leaders also act as managers when the situation calls for it. This is due to the fact that leaders do not have direct reports. Leaders do not assign tasks but distribute responsibility for achieving the goal to managers, who in turn ensure that their team members do the work.  Managers are therefore said to be leaders in a sense because they stand up and support their subordinates. 


A leader and a manager, which are considered synonymous, differ in their outlook, behavior, skills, strategies, and competencies. However, competence building, control, and an appropriate balance of power are no shortcuts to success. It also requires a combination of inspiration, vision, and human passion. Organizations need both to succeed, but developing them requires less focus on logic alone. Strategic exercises that foster an environment in which creativity and imagination can flourish are preferable, especially when resilience and everyone’s basic understanding of business are tested.