Learn what’s different between being just a manager and being a true leader so you can direct your team toward success.


It does not matter where you stand on the ladder of your career. There will certainly be a time when you will land a leadership role and will want to immediately gear into action so the process goes smoothly. The team you are tasked with leading could either be stuck in a rut or have an unsolved problem. You might be required to spearhead a project that would provide significant value to the company, or perhaps you will be given the opportunity to apply for a management position earlier than expected.

Whatever the scenario, you will need to be cognizant of the fact that you need to be a leader rather than just a supervisor. These days, people do not respond well to the authority of the “manager” or any such authoritarian figure; they need a leader. It may not seem so at first, but there is a bigger difference between a leader and a manager than you might imagine. While there is a fine line between the two, the subtlest traits and actions can differentiate a leader from a manager.


Leaders create a dream, while managers create objectives. Leaders tend to paint a picture of what they visualize as happening and should happen to their subordinates. They inspire and engage their followers to turn that vision into a reality. They galvanize their people to become a part of something important and extraordinary. They make everyone a part of the team as they realize that a lot more can be accomplished united rather than autonomously.
Managers, on the other hand, only lend their focus to assessing and attaining goals. They administer the situation to fulfill their objectives whether their employees are motivated or not.

Leaders gravitate toward change, while managers follow the rules. The leader is the “anarchist” or “revolutionary,” and the manager “goes by the book.”

Leaders are always looking for new creative ways of doing things. They face change open-mindedly and strive to make changes to the already used and worn out process of working. They like to believe that even if there is a way that has proven to work, there is always going to be a method of working that will yield better results in a shorter amount of time.

Managers tend to stick with what has previously proven to work in their own and in the company’s favor. It would not matter whether that approach has been used since the past decade. They do not bother with innovation; they just stick to what works because for them innovation takes up a lot of time and there are more important things at hand such as evaluating the achievement of goals.

Leaders desire to be unique, while managers imitate past work. Leaders are always themselves. They know what they are like, and even if they are peculiar in some sense they are not afraid to acknowledge it or even use it. Leaders often self reflect and are self aware of their traits and habits. They infuse their uniqueness into the making of the brand or their department. They are comfortable with themselves and are content with the idea of standing out. In short, they are genuine and transparent.

Managers are more likely to replicate earlier behaviors and expertise they learned from those before them. They would adopt their managerial or leadership style rather than formulating their own.

Leaders take risks, while managers avoid them. Leaders have an understanding of how important it is to take risks. They realize that with risks come innumerable opportunities and possibilities for success, and if a person is not willing to take risks they are highly likely to remain cemented to where they currently stand. They are willing to face failures and learn from them. They understand that failures are a part of the project and they will, in fact, provide a learning lesson for them and the team. Even better, leaders remain remarkably positive, consider failure as a step up the ladder to success and work hard to make their team believe the same.

Managers avoid risks as much as they can. They believe that taking risks is a waste of time, energy and resources because doing so exposes the team to potential failure. They avert problems rather than deal with them.

Leaders aim to build relationships, while managers build structures and procedures. Leaders put their focus on the individuals with whom they work. These are the people they need to inspire in order for them to realize their vision. They identify the people who will be affected by them and whom they need to influence and make sure to spend most of their time with. They establish loyalty and trust through persistence in their deliverance of high-quality performance on a continuous basis.

Managers focus on the organizational structures necessary to relay and achieve goals. They make sure that the right systems are set in place and are analytical of the outcomes they produce and whether they are the outcomes desired by the company. For them, the people who work with them are just individuals who are given certain goals and objectives to achieve.

Leaders coach, while managers direct. Leaders trust that the people who are working under them have the answers or are capable of finding them. They view their people as being apt and able to work the roles they have been given. They cut back on the temptation to tell others what to do and how to do it. Managers assign tasks and direct how to attain them.

Leaders have admirers, while managers have employees. Leaders inspire their subordinates to such an extent that they end up becoming their staunch admirers. They become their enthusiastic advocates who help build their brand and attain their goals. Their admirers assist them in increasing their visibility and credibility.

Managers have employees upon whom they thrust the rules and the goals of the company. Other than that they analyze their performance after a certain period of time. The manager’s relationship with their employees is very formal and robotic in which the employees work very hard to please their unappeasable boss.

When authority is bestowed upon you, it is up to you how you play that role, whether you embrace the characteristics of a leader or whether you opt for being just a manager.

Source: https://www.visioncareproducts.com/build-your-leadership-skills/


Maria Sampalis, OD, of Sampalis Eyecare in Cranston, RI, is founder of Corporate Optometry on Facebook, CorporateOptometryCareers.com and the Corporate OD blog. She offers strategic planning services through Corporate Optometry Consulting.


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