Leader VS Manager


Treading on risky waters we revive the age-old squabble - are you a solid leader material or a tailor-made manager – how does one know? Read on to find out more!

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When you’re a manager, you work for your company. When you’re a leader, your company works for you” are the wise words of Mr.Fabulous - Stan Slap, who apart from being the President of his own international consulting venture called, ‘Slap,’ and the mastermind behind many colossal expansions of multinational companies across the globe is also a lifestyle coach for top-notch CEO’s of the biz world, and for many a brilliant corporate minds of our generation.

This recent and rather intelligent rant by Mr. Slap has resurrected the age-old scuffle between leadership and management. Through ages experts have opined that, though there is an obvious distinction between a leader and a manager, their roles should not be in conflict with each other. There is a subtle symbiotic relationship between the two and thus, it is believed that while leadership requires strategy, management demands tactics. In order to understand this concept further and better, let’s take this battle between the two to a fairground and look at both the roles in parallel.

What makes a leader?

Going by the books, the literal meaning of leadership is - when an individual possesses the ability to leave a mark, make a drastic impression and has the inspiring quality to enable and lead the organisation to success of which he/she is a member. Being an unparalleled force to be reckoned with, a leader often stands out instead of just blending-in, a leader is often known to be the follower of the heart. With personality and physical aspect being a strong pointer of consideration – dressing distinctively and owning a strong sense of signature style and personal body language is what sets a leader apart from the rest.


These guys are often considered as private folks and even loners to some extent. The main focus of a leader is to lead their people and this trait often earns them a flock of followers and disciples. While the manager of an organisation works towards risk-aversion a leader believes in taking risk. The role of the leader is to facilitate decision making and is thus, thoroughly involved in the transformational and implementation process. Usually holding the most influential position of authority in a corporate hierarchy, a leader is not answerable to anybody for his/ her action. Though accountable for the outcome, a leader tends to enjoy the freedom of implying their ideologies without having to follow a rule tab. However, every great leader there has been throughout history has believed and agreed to the fact that a great leader is never made without the possession of an extraordinary flair for management.

What makes a manager?

The fervour to direct and control any given set of individuals irrespective of their behaviour, talent, skill sets and personal trait towards a common goal is the definition of a good manager. With their actions and motives targeted towards the successful completion of the task at hand, an outstanding manager is often deemed as the leader of his/her pack. While a leader can afford to be free-spirit and whimsical, a manager is required to be control and in command of the situation at all times. There is a constant need to always bring their A-game to the table and thus a manager always plays by the rule book. While a leader is expected to lead and inspire people towards a goal, a manager has to make sure the goal is achieved through persistence and strong will.



Always tied up with deadlines, a manager’s work is measured by the outcome he/she produces. In other words, the outcome of their hard work is measured by the result. Being creative and flexible is a leader’s forte but good managers empower their people with their views, values, principles, work ethics and intelligent strategies. With their job profile demanding them to be dictatorial, autocratic and transactional in nature, these folks usually tend to exude power in a very formal pattern. With head being the governing organ behind every corporate move of a manager, the most crucial asset every manager possesses is the will to lead and not be led.

The co-relation

Nothing describes the co-relation between these two contenders better than the way Bob Sutton, Stanford professor, an avid blogger for Harvard Business Review and co-author of the book ‘Scaling Up Excellence’ puts it, saying “I am not rejecting the distinction between leadership and management, but I am saying that the best leaders do something that might properly be called a mix of leadership and management. At a minimum, they lead in a way that constantly takes into account the importance of management.”

By this, one thing is established for sure, the only sine qua non to this endless squabble is to acknowledge the fact that - to run the race and win it too – a manager is required to step up and be a leader at all times.


Similarly, a leader has to step up his management game to lead his flock to success all the way long – because, at the end of the day – aren’t these two always symbiotically in sync!



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Author:  buddingmanagers
Posted On:  Tuesday, 10 June, 2014 - 13:47

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