Leaders Versus Managers, 7 Differences

Leaders Versus Managers, 7 Differences

7 Differences Between Leaders and Managers

Leadership and management are two essential skills for any organization, but they are not the same thing. While both involve influencing others to achieve a common goal, they differ in how they approach this task. Here are seven key differences between leaders and managers that you should know.

Key Takeaways

Leaders inspire, managers plan.

Leaders innovate, managers optimize.

Leaders empower, managers direct.

Leaders influence, managers command.

Leaders develop, managers maintain.

Leaders challenge, managers support.

Leaders transform, managers adapt.

1. Leaders inspire, managers plan.

Leaders have a vision of the future that they communicate to their followers, and they motivate them to pursue it. Managers, on the other hand, focus on the present and the details of how to execute the vision. They organize, coordinate, and control the resources and activities needed to achieve the goal.

2. Leaders innovate, managers optimize.

Leaders are always looking for new ways to improve the status quo, challenge assumptions, and create value. They embrace change and risk as opportunities for learning and growth. Managers are more concerned with maintaining efficiency, quality, and stability. They seek to optimize the existing systems and processes, and minimize uncertainty and errors.

3. Leaders empower, managers direct.

Leaders delegate authority and responsibility to their followers, and encourage them to make decisions and take initiative. They provide guidance and feedback, but they do not micromanage or interfere. Managers assign tasks and roles to their subordinates, and monitor their performance and compliance. They provide instructions and directions, and expect obedience and accountability.

4. Leaders influence, managers command.

Leaders rely on their charisma, expertise, and emotional intelligence to persuade and influence others to follow them. They build trust and rapport with their followers, and appeal to their values and emotions. Managers use their formal authority and position to command and control others. They enforce rules and policies, and reward or punish based on results.

5. Leaders develop, managers maintain.

Leaders are committed to developing themselves and their followers, and fostering a culture of learning and growth. They seek feedback and opportunities for improvement, and they coach and mentor their followers to help them reach their potential. Managers are more focused on maintaining their own skills and competencies, and ensuring that their followers perform their duties well.

6. Leaders challenge, managers support.

Leaders challenge their followers to go beyond their comfort zone, set high standards, and achieve excellence. They provide constructive criticism and honest feedback, and they hold their followers accountable for their actions. Managers support their followers by providing them with the resources, information, and assistance they need to do their job well. They provide recognition and praise, and they solve problems and conflicts.

7. Leaders transform, managers adapt.

Leaders have a long-term perspective and a big-picture view of the situation. They seek to transform themselves, their followers, and their organization to align with their vision. They initiate change and drive innovation. Managers have a short-term perspective and a narrow focus on the task at hand. They seek to adapt themselves, their followers, and their organization to the changing environment. They react to change and implement solutions.


  • Leaders and managers are both important for the success of any organization, but they have different roles and responsibilities. Know when to act as a leader and when to act as a manager, and how to balance both skills.
  • Leaders and managers have different styles and preferences, and so do their followers. Understand your own style and preference, and adapt to the style and preference of others. Use different tools and techniques to communicate, motivate, and influence different types of people.
  • Leaders and managers face different challenges and opportunities in their work. Be aware of the internal and external factors that affect your performance and your organization. Use different strategies and methods to deal with different situations and scenarios.

Leaders vs Managers: A Statistical Report on the Global Demand for Different Roles

The debate over the differences between leaders and managers has been going on for decades. Some argue that leaders are visionary, inspirational, and strategic, while managers are practical, operational, and analytical. Others claim that everyone needs both sets of skills and that the best executives balance leading and managing.

But what does the data say about the global demand for leaders and managers in different industries? How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected the preferences and expectations of employers and employees regarding these roles? In this report, we will present some statistics and insights from various sources to shed some light on these questions.

The Gender Gap in Leadership and Management

One of the most persistent and controversial issues in leadership and management is the gender gap. According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2022 by the World Economic Forum, women represent only 27% of managerial positions and 22% of senior officials and legislators worldwide. Moreover, the report estimates that it will take 135.6 years to close the gender gap in economic participation and opportunity at the current pace.

The gender gap varies across industries, regions, and levels of seniority. For example, six industries hired significantly more men than women into leadership positions in 2021: Technology (30%), Agriculture (28%), Energy (25%), Supply Chain and Transportation (25%), Manufacturing (22%) and Infrastructure (21%). On the other hand, some industries hired more women than men into leadership roles, such as Education (58%), Health (56%), Media (54%), Consumer (53%), Professional Services (52%), and Financial Services (51%).

The gender gap also widens as the level of seniority increases. According to a study by Harvard Business Review, 78% of top managers were men, 67% at the next level down (senior executives reporting directly to the top managers), 60% at the manager level below that. The study also found that women scored higher than men on 17 out of 19 leadership competencies, such as taking initiative, driving results, developing others, and building relationships.

The Impact of Remote Work and Technology on Leadership and Management

Another major factor that influences the demand for leaders and managers is the shift to remote work and the adoption of technology. The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated these trends, as many organizations had to adapt to new ways of working and collaborating.

According to a survey by Gartner, 46% of the workforce is projected to be working hybrid in the near future. This means that employees and managers will have more choices about where, when, and how much they work. The survey also found that remote workers are more likely to report higher levels of performance than onsite workers.

However, remote work also poses some challenges for leadership and management. For instance, managers have less visibility into the day-to-day activities of their employees and need to focus more on their outputs rather than their processes. Managers also need to communicate more effectively, provide more feedback, and foster a sense of belonging among their teams.

Technology can be both an enabler and a disruptor for leadership and management. On one hand, technology can help managers monitor, coordinate, and automate some of their tasks, such as scheduling, expense reporting, or performance evaluation. On the other hand, technology can also replace some of the functions of managers, such as assigning work or nudging productivity. Moreover, technology can create new expectations and demands from employees, such as flexibility, autonomy, or personalization.

Therefore, leaders and managers need to embrace technology as a tool to enhance their roles rather than a threat to replace them. They also need to develop new skills and competencies to cope with the changing nature of work, such as digital literacy, agility, empathy, or creativity.

The Preferences and Expectations of Employers and Employees for Leaders and Managers

Finally, another aspect that affects the demand for leaders and managers is the preferences and expectations of employers and employees for these roles. Different industries, organizations, cultures, or generations may have different views on what makes a good leader or manager.

According to a study by Harvard Business Review, most of the debate over “leaders” vs. “managers” focuses on nouns when it should focus on verbs. The study suggests that everyone needs both “leading” and “managing” in their work, depending on the situation. For example, sometimes a challenge requires providing direction or vision (leading), while other times it requires executing or delivering (managing).

The study also found that the best executives balance leading and managing, and that they can switch between the two modes depending on the context. The study identified four types of executives based on their preferences and behaviors: the Leader-Manager (who excels at both leading and managing), the Leader (who prefers leading over managing), the Manager (who prefers managing over leading), and the Laggard (who struggles with both leading and managing).

The study also asked over 1,000 C-suite executives to complete an analogy: “Leadership is to _ as management is to _.” The responses revealed some of the assumptions and stereotypes that people have about these roles. For example, some of the analogies were: Leadership is to emotion as management is to reason; Leadership is to strategy as management is to operations; Leadership is to inspiration as management is to motivation.

However, these analogies also show that leadership and management are not mutually exclusive or contradictory. Rather, they are complementary and interdependent. As another study by Emeritus puts it: “Simply put, leaders add or create value, while managers count value. Managers engage with the idea of value creation as the leader proposes it and focuses on counting it until the predestined value is reached. Leaders add value to the entire sum of effort of the production chain with their action-based decisions.”

In conclusion, the global demand for leaders and managers is influenced by various factors, such as the gender gap, the remote work and technology trends, and the preferences and expectations of employers and employees. These factors create both opportunities and challenges for leaders and managers, who need to adapt to the changing environment and balance their skills and roles. Ultimately, leaders and managers are not different people, but different functions that everyone needs to perform at different times.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some examples of leaders?

Some examples of leaders are Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Nelson Mandela, etc.

What are some examples of managers?

Some examples of managers are project managers, department heads, supervisors, team leaders, etc.

Can a person be both a leader and a manager?

Yes, a person can be both a leader and a manager depending on the situation and the role they play. However, it is not easy to balance both skills effectively.

How can I become a better leader?

Some ways to become a better leader are: have a clear vision of your goal; communicate your vision effectively; inspire others to follow you; be confident but humble; be open-minded but decisive; be flexible but consistent; be proactive but collaborative; be creative but realistic; be optimistic but realistic; be respectful but assertive; be supportive but challenging; be accountable but empowering; seek feedback and improvement; coach and mentor others; etc.

How can I become a better manager?

Some ways to become a better manager are: have a clear plan of action; organize your resources efficiently; coordinate your activities effectively; control your outcomes carefully; be attentive but not intrusive; be directive but not authoritarian; be informative but not overwhelming; be rewarding but not bribing; be corrective but not punitive; be supportive but not dependent; be problem-solving but not problem-creating; seek feedback and improvement; train and develop others; etc.








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