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What is the Difference Between a Leader and a Manager

What is the difference between a leader and a manager

What is the difference between a leader and a manager?

People can become confused over this issue; what is the difference between a leader and a manager?

There is a sense of uncertainty around the exact meaning of the concepts of "leadership" and "management".

If you look up "leadership" in the dictionary it says that leadership is defined as:
"The action of leading a group of people or an organisation

We already knew that!

That does not help.
I know! Let's look up "leading"

The dictionary says "To lead is to "cause (a person or an animal) to go with one by holding them by the hand, a halter, a rope, etc., while moving forward"
Can you imagine what would happen if you tried that at work?

The results would be startling!
Let us be more specific

At the Corporate Coach Group we define "the leader" as:
A member of the team or organisation, that is chiefly responsible for the creation and communication of a clear goal: and who can then inspire the team to take the actions necessary to achieve the goal in the most effective manner possible.

And we define "the manager" as:
A member of the team or organisation, that is chiefly responsible for the planning, implementation organisation and control of all resources that will achieve the stated goal, in the most efficient manner possible.

  1. Obviously it would be an advantage if a leader had good management skills
  2. Equally it would be an advantage if a manager had good leadership skills

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Leadership requires the associated skills

If leaders are chiefly responsible for the:

  1. Creation of a clear goal
  2. Communication of a clear goal
  3. Inspiring the team to take the actions

Then leadership training requires knowledge on how to set proper goals

Goals that are:

  1. Specific
  2. Moral
  3. Realistic
  4. Profitable

Specific means:

That the goal must be worded in ways that are objectively quantifiable.

Moral means:

The goal should add value to the society in which it operates; not detract value.

Realistic means:

The goal should be practically achievable.

Profitable means:

The goal should add value to the organisation itself and the people who own or work for it.

The communication should be:

Clear and un-equivocating: with no ambiguities.

Examples of good leadership speech

Winston Churchill quote
"You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word. Victory,"

This is clear and un-equivocal with no ambiguity.

J F Kennedy quote:

The United States should set as a goal the landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth by the end of the decade.

This is clear and un-equivocal

Margaret Thatcher's quote:

"The President of the Commission, Mr. Delors, said at a press conference the other day that he wanted the European Parliament to be the democratic body of the Community, he wanted the Commission to be the executive and he wanted the Council of Ministers to be the Senate.

No. No. No!"

Clear and un-equivocal.

The leader needs to be able to inspire the team to take action

The leader must have a sense of confidence that he / she is able to pass on to others in the rest of the team.
This confidence is based on a sound plan and a determination to succeed.

We will either find a way, or make one!"


Those leaders who are too pessimistic and / or fail to build good plans, soon fail.

Now if we define the manager as the person who is responsible for "planning, implementation, organisation and control of all resources that will achieve the stated goal in the most efficient manner possible" then the manager must have the ability to prioritise-


This means the ability to put the elements of a plan into the correct sequence

The manager must have the ability to organise men and machines

Can the manager get the right people with the right materials in the time?

The manager must have the ability to organise people

The ability to organise people requires some leadership abilities.

So ideally we want leader-managers

Leader-managers are those special people who have both sets of abilities

So a Leader-manager is defined as:

"A member of a team or organisation who is primarily responsible for the communication of a clear goal, together with the logical, enthusiastic and intelligent organisation of resources, that will achieve the goal in the most efficient manner possible."

So a Leader-manager has the following attributes and abilities

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1. Clear purpose

The ability to create a clear and distinct goal.
(As opposed to drifting into the future and just hoping that good fortune will smile on you).

2. Excellent communication skills

The ability to accurately explain your ideas to others, in such a way that they will understand you, agree with you and will act in accordance with your ideas.
(As opposed to excessive miscommunications, misunderstandings and disagreements).

3. Rational, logical plans

Analyse the facts and formulate detailed, logical, written plans of action that will achieve the goal in the most efficient way possible.
(As opposed to constantly feeling uncertain and always feeling that you are "reacting to the current crisis").

4. Rational conflict

The ability to guide and harmonise the various personalities in the team, so that they are more able to synchronise their actions and be more likely to reinforce and complement each other.

(As opposed to office character clashes, internal squabbles and people conspiring against each other)

5. Inspire and motivate yourself (personal management)

The ability to maintain a positive mental state of optimism and realistic self-confidence, especially during the tough times.
(As opposed to, losing heart after a defeat or series of setbacks).

6. Inspire and motivate other people (leadership qualities)

The ability to inspire the positive emotions of self-belief, desire and confidence in all the other members of the team, especially during difficult times.
(As opposed to allowing excessive negativity, pessimism or fear to take hold of the team and weaken its spirit).

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