Are You a Leader or a Manager? Yes, There is a Difference

Are you a manager or a leader? We’re not talking about your official title, but the methods you use when overseeing a team of people. These words are often used interchangeably, but the fact is they apply to two very different personality types with vastly different management styles…

So while your business card may say manager, the way you conduct yourself will let the world know that you’re a natural born leader.

Traditionally, the role of a manager is to run a team, a project, or a department as though it were a well-oiled machine. For managers, employees are the finely crafted gears in that machine. And should one of the gears need replacing, another is put in its place. This line of thinking is efficient, precise, and effective in keeping the machine running on track, on time, and on budget.

For managers, it’s more about the task than the team. And while that approach can be very practical, it has its limitations.

Leaders take a different view.
For leaders, their team, their colleagues, are their main concern.

While the managers are making sure deadlines are met and the product is getting out the door, the leaders are making sure the goal of the company is aligned with the goals of each individual employee. They’re concerned with the professional fulfillment of each worker, helping them realize their potential and advance through the company. This can have long-range benefits for the company over time.

The next area where managers differ from leaders is management style. Managers tend to espouse the “do as I say” method, while leaders lead by example, displaying a willingness to work right along side their team members to get the job done.  

And yet there is value in letting them handle tasks without their direct involvement. In the pejorative term “micro-managing,” managing is a major negative, suggesting a lack of trust. A good leader trusts the skills and instincts of their team to get the job done.

That trust extends to a leader’s openness to new ideas as well. Employees need to feel confident that their thoughts and suggestions will be received with open minds. This will encourage innovation and growth for them as individuals, and for the company at large.

So while strong managers play an important role in business, ensuring the accuracy, timeliness, and completion of day-to-day tasks, it is the leaders who will effect real change, elevating the company through the elevation of its workforce.

This article was originally published in Eureka.


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