The Difference Between Managers and Leaders

Can managers lead? Can leaders manage? What’s the difference between the two? Which one are you, and which one do you want to be? One may think they’re interchangeable, but each has different qualities. And a good manager has the qualities of a good leader.

  • Handling mistakes. Managers tend to criticize errors, while leaders point them out indirectly. The efficiency of simply pointing out a mistake is negated by the employee’s reaction: frustration and embarrassment. Rather than doing that, give them the opportunity to address mistakes, letting them provide input and helping them see where they went wrong.
  • Placing your focus. Leaders focus on the positive; managers tend to do the opposite. If you want to act like a leader, use the sandwich technique: praise, (constructive) criticism, and praise. Only pointing out the negatives of an employee or a project doesn’t create a desire to improve. 
  • Giving order versus asking for input. We all know about the stereotypical manager who barks responses at employees, almost guaranteeing they’ll resent you. A leader allows employees a voice in the decision-making process, asking them what they would do and what they think. This also creates a sense of teamwork, independence, motivation, and creative thinking. 
  • Giving and taking credit. When a project goes well, managers tend to take the credit for themselves while leaders acknowledge their team’s efforts. And if you want a successful team and a positive company culture, give credit where it’s due. Employees whose managers recognize their efforts want to build on their successes. 
  • Praising effort. In a similar vein, managers often forget to give that recognition while leaders acknowledge even small improvements. Taking the time to reward employees for their efforts keeps them invested in what they do and reminds them to take pride in their work. So, make sure you give frequent feedback — no matter how old you are or how long you’ve worked, everyone wants a little appreciation for what they do.

If you want to lead as a manager, take these steps so your employees want to follow you. For advice on your next great addition to your team, work with PrideStaff.