What leaders really do

The difference between leadership and management.

Can you tell the difference between a manager and a leader – or whether your boss is a manager or leader? Even though these two words are usually used interchangeably most of the time, they are very different.

How a leader affects the organisation’s culture, workflow and performance is different from that of a manager.

Also, not all leaders are good managers. And not all managers are good leaders. Several traits set these two groups of people apart. Let’s compare their traits.

1. Leaders create value. Managers count value

Managers are effective at counting value. They can be so focused on counting value that they discourage those who add value by asking them for unnecessary reports and statements. On the other hand, leaders add value to their team by empowering and leading them by example.

A manager is usually satisfied when his or her team achieves their set goals. On the other hand, a leader sets this record as the base which the team will use to build. Managers focus on the bottom line while leaders focus on the future.

2. Leaders influence. Managers have power over people

Leaders influence their teams. They improve their communication, listening and negotiation skills regularly to lead their teams efficiently. And their teams end up performing extremely well.

Managers, on the other hand, tend to control their teams using the power they hold. Remember, no one likes to be controlled or coerced to do something that they don’t want to do. Since managers control people using their power, their teams are likely to perform below the set expectations.

3. Leaders lead people. Managers manage work

According to the personal statement writing service, influencing your employees to achieve several goals is not similar to controlling them. How do you know if you are leading people or simply managing work? Hold a meeting with the team and pay attention to what they talk about most the time.

Are your employees focused on the current tasks? Are they speaking of the organisation’s vision? If they are focused on the current tasks, you are managing them. On the other hand, if they are focused on the vision and the long term goals, you are a leader.

4. Leaders take risks. Managers love familiarity

Leaders take risks to achieve the organisation’s vision and long term goals. They understand that failing is the beginning of something remarkable that will lead them to success. Managers, on the other hand, don’t like trying new things. They love their comfort zone.

5. Leaders are charismatic. Managers are authoritative

Leaders work hard to earn the respect of their team members. And that’s why their teams always follow them. On the other hand, managers make their employees to follow the rules. At the end of the day, leaders lead happy people while managers lead frustrated employees.

The non-effective leader

If you’ve just realised that you are a manager, this does not mean that you are a ineffective leader. Ineffective leaders are always trying to improve how they think and behave yet continue to show several detrimental behaviours. They include:

1. Complaining and criticizing

Constantly complaining and criticizing others says a lot about the character of that person. This habit can destroy the culture and teams within the organisation.

If you are an employee who is working hard to become a leader, you should keep in mind that criticizing and blaming others not only prevents you from achieving your goals but also earns you the reputation of a gossipmonger. In any organisation, these two traits will never help you achieve your goals or status.

2. Lack of emotional control

All true leaders know how to control and express their emotions especially during turbulent times. They are always conscious of their thoughts and behaviours because their team members are always looking at them. They know when to confront, remain silent or restrain.

If an individual is unable to understand the different personalities in his or her organisation, there’ll always be friction and chaos. Leaders not only exercise emotional control but also empathise with their teams.

3. Trying to befriend everyone

When you rise to the top, you’ll get torn apart between befriending people and being effective. When your team considers you as a friend instead of a superior, life can get extremely difficult.

As a leader, you’ll need to make difficult decisions, and befriending your team can turn professional issues into personal issues. The best thing to do is keep your distance and avoid personal talk during working hours.

4. Micromanaging others

Getting to know about other people’s daily routine is important in the early stages when forming a team. However, doing it at later stages is not acceptable. Micromanaging will exhaust you because you tend to overexert yourself. Plus, your team will not trust you because they’ll feel you don’t trust them.

5. Becoming a leader

If you are a manager, you don’t have to continue doing what you’ve been doing. This is the best time to change by adopting the characteristics and traits that you don’t possess. For instance, if you’ve been micromanaging your employees, you need to stop that and start involving them in brainstorming ideas and sharing your vision.

Create a list of the characteristics that you see in an ideal leader. And start working on yourself daily. In a couple of months, you’ll be a different person. And most importantly, your team will perform remarkably well.


Remember, excellence is a journey; not a destination. Keep working on yourself on a regular basis. Read books, listen to audiobooks, attend seminars and associate with other effective leaders in your industry and your organisation will be among the top in the industry.

Alice Jones is a professional journalist and writer from San Francisco, California. She has a Master’s degree from the University of San Fransisco. Alice concentrates on topics such as freelance, business and marketing.

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