The difference between leaders and managers.

At first glance, the words “leader” and “manager” might seem synonymous. Managers are in charge, right? If they are in charge, then they must also be leaders.

Ideally, managers will have great leadership skills, but that is not always the case. There are many differences between leadership and management, primarily regarding how the people in question act toward the members of their teams, as well as how they approach their positions.

While leadership and management sometimes overlap, the occasion is not always guaranteed. An online Master of Business Administration (MBA) program can help you gain the skills you need to become both an exceptional manager and a great leader.

Managers Are “Me” Focused, Leaders Focus on the Team

Mangers and leaders react to kudos or admonishment differently. Some managers tend to consider themselves more valuable than their employees. For managers, when things go right, it is because they directed their employees correctly. However, when things go wrong, it is because their employees did not listen to instructions carefully enough. Such an attitude only breeds contempt among employees and causes dissension.

Leaders react differently. They see themselves as a part of a team, so when the team accomplishes something, leaders make sure everyone else knows how much effort the entire team put into the endeavor. When things go wrong, leaders take responsibility for not training or instructing their workers properly. Leaders minimize animosity and ensure that their teams know that, for better or worse, the leader is going to stick with them, and that connection is key.

Managers Direct, Leaders Take Action

People in management or leadership have to delegate responsibilities. However, the way they do this can determine how their employees regard them.

Leaders know they must lead by example at all times. They don’t force busywork on their employees; rather, they explain the value of even the most menial tasks so employees know how important their efforts are. If leaders make mistakes, they will often do the legwork required to correct them. Although their job is to delegate tasks to their employees, they do so fairly and with the understanding that their workers can come to them for assistance at any time if need be.

Managers Value Results, Leaders Value Achievements

While an organization’s purpose is to improve its bottom line, there is not one “right” way to do this. In fact, focusing simply on results rather than how to get them is shortsighted, and it can ultimately be misleading.

Commanding employees to deliver results without offering guidance can lead to cutting corners, which almost certainly yields inferior results. These situations indicate that the manager does not value the employee’s efforts or talents; this manager only cares about wrapping up a specific project as quickly as possible. This attitude might work for a short period of time, but it will eventually lead the company to ruin.

Leaders understand that results are important, but only as the products of hard work, diligence and dedication. Leaders focus on long-term gains, and they know the only way to succeed in the long run is to be consistent. Leaders focus on fostering their employees’ skills on a daily basis because the abilities they gain today will ultimately benefit the organization tomorrow.

Managers Maintain the Status Quo While Leaders Innovate

Every organization wants to excel in its industry; no company operates with the idea that “good enough” is an option. However, without a true leader at the helm, “good enough” can suffice. The difference between simple management and leadership comes down to how the head of an organization views success.

Unfortunately, many managers do only what they absolutely must to fulfill their roles. They do not see any value in putting extra effort into their work, nor do they push their employees to do so. To this kind of manager, as long as nothing catastrophic happens, the day is a success.

A leader, however, moves forward. Stagnation and complacency are bad for business. Leaders view every opportunity as a chance to excel, and they motivate their team members to reach their full potential rather than simply doing what is required of them. With a true leader at the helm, a company will accomplish much more than it would with a simple manager in charge.

Learn more about the TAMU-CC online MBA program.