VITAL Differences Between A Leader and Manager

business leader business skills entrepreneurship skill management teams tips and tricks Jul 20, 2021

What's the difference between a leader a manager?

A leader leads. 

This is essentially another word for the entrepreneur, where you're the decision-maker in change who sets the pace that others follow. It's based largely on vision and spearheading new innovations, as well as leading by example (especially as a startup) and thus doing the work yourself too and setting how the policies for how others do that too.

And of course, a manager manages.

Management is more organisation based, where you'll have uplifting routines to oversee, tasks to ensure completion of, and systems to maintain and perhaps improve. 


As a founder, you'll need to be both. Again, especially at the beginning. You'll need to set up systems that you then maintain and use for yourself and your teams.

And, you'll need to understand the difference in a lot more ways too. So we compiled an example of some top tips from other leaders about what it means to be a manager and to be a leader - and the differences between the two when you put each one of the two hats on.


7 Key Differences Between A Manager and Leader


1. Leaders are agents of change, managers maintain the status quo.

Leaders are proud disrupters where innovation is a key focus. They embrace change and know improvement is always possible. And they understand and accept the fact that changes like these will have effects - good and bad - and will factor them into account. On the other hand, a manager's job is to stick with what works, refining systems, structures and processes to make them better, which can leave little room for innovations that break those original systems that were working fine before.

2. Leaders create the vision and managers create the goals.

A leader outlines the vision of what they see as possible and tries to inspire and engage with others to turn that vision into reality. And so, they'll push people to be part of something bigger than themselves, and so encourage and create cooperation and teamwork that allows that to happen. The managers focus on setting, measuring and achieving goals - the necessary milestones on the way towards making that vision happen. So they'll control situations to reach or exceed those objectives, but there's a risk that they'll lose sight of the overall vision by being too close to each goal.

3. Leaders take risks but managers control risk.

A good leader is willing to try new things even if there's a chance of failure, because they know that failure is often a step on the path to success. You can't be an entrepreneur if you don't understand that! Managers will work to minimize risk - they seek to avoid or control problems rather than embracing them. However, this can be harnessed constructively by finding ways of working together to ensure that risks aren't avoided - rather that you can bounce back if something goes wrong.

4. Leaders build relationships and managers build systems.

Leaders focus on the people, which means all the stakeholders such as customers and partners, that they need to influence to be able to reach that vision. They know who their stakeholders are, spend a lot of their time with them, and will build loyalty and trust in them. On the flip side, managers focus on the structures necessary to set and achieve those goals we mentioned before. They ensure systems are in place to attain desired outcomes and the focus of their work with other people is towards seeing them achieve their goals and objectives.

5. Leaders coach others but managers direct others.

Leaders know that people who work for them will already have the answers - or are able to find them. They should be optimistic about the people they worth with and should resist the temptation to tell their people what to do and how to do it. But a manager's job is to assign tasks and provide guidance on how to achieve results in those tasks.

6. Leaders grow personally whereas managers rely on existing growth.

A good leader knows that if they aren’t learning something new every day, then they're falling behind. They'll be curious about how to remain relevant in an ever-changing world and seek out people and learning that will expand their thinking. Managers will often double down on what made them successful, perfecting existing skills and adopting proven behaviours, because those skills are what help them "oil the machine" of whatever those systems are that they're there to maintain.

7. Leaders think long-term but managers think short-term.

A leader will need to do what they say they are going to do and stay motivated toward a big, often very distant goal. That's part of having that vision - they'll stay motivated without receiving needing a short-term benefit. However, by the nature of being a manager, you're able to focus on the importance of having short-term achievements too, because it helps test if you're really achieving your goals! 


An important closing note

PLEASE remember, that as a founder, you will need to be both of these things. Play both the roles. 

Yes, your first job is the be the leader with a clear vision, but you also need to be aware of the systems that let you achieve your milestones and being on top of anyone you work with to get things done. You'll need to pivot to being able to do all this, as well as the work of getting the main output of the business done too. This is what it means to build a business that serves customers: provide the value, and the business that can keep providing the value.

This evolves as your business grows, but for now, this is plenty to get you started!


The conclusion?

An entrepreneur is just another work for a leader.

So, the main difference between an entrepreneur and a manager is their standing in the company - the entrepreneur is a visionary that converts an idea into the business itself. They own the business, and so bear all the risks. The manager, on the other hand, is an employee who works for a salary. 

The focus of an entrepreneur lies in starting the business and later expanding the business. A manager will focus on the daily smooth functioning of the business.

So, what do you think about these? Reach out to us on social media to tell us what you think! Is there anything you would add to this list?


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