15 Differences Between A Leader and A Manager

There is a severe lack of wisdom in our society. One of the reasons I choose to focus on leadership and executive development coaching is because I've noticed this alarming trend among leaders. Conventional leadership development programs don't actually teach leadership development. They teach people how to be better managers. 

Photo Credit: ArtJonak via Compfight cc

Managers are people who "manage" processes and operations so that the system runs smoothly. Managers ensure that the mission of the organization is reached with measurable results. Most business schools and leadership development programs focus on the skill sets needed to be good managers. 

Leadership includes another set of skills. Leadership and wisdom go hand in hand. Wisdom is taking all the knowledge, insight, experience, and understanding one has acquired and making smart choices on how to make decisions.

To be clear, according to Alan Murray, The Wall Street Journal Guide to Management, "leadership and management must go hand in hand. They are not the same thing. But they are necessarily linked and complimentary."

Warren Bennis is credited with listing the differences between leaders and managers in his 1989 book On Becoming A Leader. 

15 Differences between a manager and a leader

The manager administers; the leader innovates.

– The manager is a copy; the leader is an original.

– The manager maintains; the leader develops.

– The manager focuses on systems and structure; the leader focuses on people.

– The manager relies on control; the leader inspires trust.

– The manager has a short-range view; the leader has a long-range perspective.

– The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why.

– The manager has his or her eye always on the bottom line; the leader’s eye is on the horizon.

– The manager imitates; the leader originates.

– The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it.

– The manager is the classic good soldier; the leader is his or her own person.

– The manager does things right; the leader does the right thing.

In this article by Changingminds.org the writer includes another  difference

– The manager has subordinates; the leader has followers.

In this Harvard Business Review article, the author adds two more differences

The manager counts value; the leader creates it.

– The manager creates circles of power; the leader creates circles of influence.

Some look at this list and think it's just semantics. I argue that the true differences between managers an leaders is wisdom. 

One of my favorite ways of highlighting the difference between a manager and leader is in the life of Jesus.

Before the time of Jesus, Jewish people had the law of Moses to guide them. The Law was like a manager. It kept the status quo. It kept people in line. It was a set of rules to follow and when those rules were followed things tended to go well. But when Jesus arrived, He showed how to be a leader using wisdom. 

The law was still relevant but Jesus was an original that showed how to take the law and not rule over people but to love and transform people from the inside out.

I am preparing to write a book. The focus is on leadership development,as Bennis outlines, for women . With the popularity of books like Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg and Thrive by Ariana Huffington, and the distrust of top down traditional models of leadership, there is a shift in what leadership and executive development programs need to look like for the future. 

Good management skills will still be necessary. But leaders of the future will need to learn how to practice true leadership skills like:

– Innovation
– Forecasting
– Talent development
– Distraction proofing
– Global trending

This is why the coaching industry is growing so quickly. Leaders, like you,  are reading about leadership concepts that are speaking to your heart and spirit, not just the bottom line. Yet, with every ounce of knowledge gained, inwardly you long to begin to incorporate those concepts in your life but don't know how. There is no strategy. It is just hit or miss application which doesn't produce lasting results. A coach can help.

If you, like most leaders, are consumed with the latest fires of management, how can you possibly find the time to begin to incorporate the changes you want to make? It just seems too overwhelming. My coaching programs are designed to help you manage your management AND show you how to strategically develop your leadership skills. 

If you want to see how, let's set up a 20 minute FREE consultation. Click here when you are ready to schedule that. 

This list is by no means exhaustive. Is there a difference between a manager and leader in your opinion? If so, what would you add to this list?

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