Are You a Leader or a Manager?

The word "leader" is often used indiscriminately. Some managers are also leaders; some leaders are also managers. What's the difference?

A manager's job is to plan, organize and coordinate. A leader's job is to inspire and motivate. The biggest difference between managers and leaders is the way they motivate people who work or follow them, and this sets the tone for most other aspects of what they do. Managers have subordinates; leaders have followers.

The best supervisors and executives are both managers and leaders. They realize that you cannot buy hearts, especially when a difficult path needs to be followed, so they act as leaders too. Here are other common attributes:



Focuses on systems and structure

Focuses on people

Relies on control

Inspires trust



Imitates; is a copy

Originates; is inventive



Has a short-range view

Has a long-range perspective

Asks how and when

Asks what and why

Has their eye on the bottom line

Has their eye on the horizon

Accepts the status quo

Challenges the status quo

Is a classic "good soldier"

Is his or her own person

Does things right

Does the right thing

Managers can become better leaders by focusing on people. A great first step is working to understand the different needs that motivate people, and recognizing that the same rewards don't motivate everyone in the same way. This can be done by listening carefully to others to learn what motivates them. Another key to people-focused leadership is to make sure you communicate clearly so they understand how their work contributes to a larger goal.

Leaders create productive teams that draw the best from people. They effectively coach teams in collaboration, consensus building, and conflict resolution. Those who are being "managed" are really looking for a leader they trust and want to follow: someone they know is working for the greater good - for them and for the organization.


Glenn Parsons, managing director of SKYE Business Solutions, is a seasoned executive with a unique blend of entrepreneurial/start up and public company experience. His background and insight positions him well as a trusted advisor and valuable asset to many organizations across several different industries. With a strong legacy of executive sales leadership in venture backed technology firms, his ability to help identify and solve both strategic and tactical issues is demonstrated repeatedly....

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