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It’s easy to assume that being a manager and leader are the same thing. Both, after all, are usually expected to lead teams, mitigate risk, increase profit and add significant value to the business.

Some people make great leaders while others excel at management, but are the two interchangeable?

As it turns out, there are key differences between management and leadership.

In this blog post, we’re going to delve into six that demonstrate just how different each role is.

1. Leaders are Proactive – Managers React

Leadership is all about forging ahead with new initiatives and setting the gold standard for working practices. Leaders typically have confidence that their team can also be proactive and are far more likely to follow than require a push in the right direction.

By contrast, management is about reacting to situations. Typically, this will revolve around encouraging team members to perform to the best of their ability. If they fail to do so, managers must be capable of delivering bad news and presenting a solution.

2. Leaders foster Teams – Managers manage Groups

The role of a leader within an organisation is a little bit like that of the director on a film set. Staff are the individual cast members and each one must do their own job effectively if the whole is to be successful.

Managers, on the other hand, are more adept at managing groups of people, whose disparate skills and responsibilities are less of a collective and, consequently, require closer, more proactive attention.


3. Leadership isnt About Systems and Structure

Managers spend an inordinate amount of time micromanaging the constituent elements that make up their group. Whether it processes for delivering customer support or the mechanics behind an invoicing regime, management has to get its hands dirty.

By comparison, leadership focuses entirely on the people. It doesn’t worry itself with the burden of systems and structure; development of the individual team members is what matters.

4. Leaders keep Their Eye on the Horizon

In management, an eagle eye is always placed on the bottom line, for-profit and customer satisfaction is the ultimate goal.

Leadership is about looking a little further ahead and scanning the horizon for the next big opportunity. Leaders always look forward and rarely live in the ‘now’.

5. Management Accepts the Status Quo

Being a manager is about abiding by a specific set of rules and expectations – it’s focused on accepting and delivering the status quo.

Leaders challenge the status quo and are far more likely to ask “why?” than “how?”. Why should the status quo be left to go stale?

6. Imitation vs Originality

Perhaps the key difference between leadership and management is that the latter is far more about imitation rather than originality.

Managers carry forward ideas delivered from above and ensure that processes and systems are implemented correctly. Leadership is about establishing those norms, continually challenging them and making changes when inspiration strikes.


So, there you have it – management and leadership are two entirely different animals.

Most importantly, they should always work in harmony; managers and leaders benefit each other and without one, the other would simply never succeed.

Written By
Madara is a freelance business writer with a passion for sharing her insights with the community. Being a media and business enthusiast she keeps her hand on the pulse of the latest news in the field. She also enjoys spending too much time browsing through flights available at the closest airports.

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