Differences Between A Leader and Manager – Essay

According to Armstrong (p8), ” Management is concerned with achieving results by effectively obtaining, deploying, utilizing and controlling all the resources required, namely people, money, information, facilities, plant and equipment. Leadership focuses on the most important resource, people. It is the process of developing and communicating a vision for the future, motivating people and gaining their commitment and engagement.” These definitions state that there are several differences between leading and managing people in business. Management stirs thoughts like planning, organizing, directing and controlling while leadership is quite a different story. When individuals think of leadership they are more prone to think about qualities like innovation, motivation and support. Organizations use communications, the selection and training of employees, and controlling of processes to conduct their day to day activities. Leaders and managers have different views in each of these categories that relate directly to their follower’s job satisfaction, individual empowerment, and level of trust. Employees of managers tend to do what they have been assigned because they fear reprimand or punishment, while followers of leaders tend to accomplish goals because they want to and to obtain higher personal satisfaction. This is one of the major differences between leaders and managers.

Managers and leaders alike utilize two categories of communications which include written and oral. Both managers and leaders use both types of communication in various different methods that include telephone conversations, memos, letters, and email. Managers and leaders need to give directions and explain processes to their workers. They also need to reward and praise their followers. Making presentations to groups of people and conducting meetings are also ways in which managers and leaders must communicate their messages. However, the most important aspect of communication is being able to listen. Being a good listener is vital for both managers and leaders. Supervisors and workers expect their managers and leaders to listen to their recommendations and complaints. Both managers and leaders not only need to listen to their subordinates but they also must follow through with what they hear. Without being able to listen well to their staff the manager or leader would not be a good communicator. While writing reports, letters, memos, policies and procedures the manager or leaders needs the skills necessary to accomplish these tasks in a way that is easily understood and interpreted. Their writing must be clear and concise with good grammar and composition. Communicating goals to employees is one area that shows tremendous differences between leaders and managers. While both need to accomplish goals and get tasks completed, leaders tend to listen more to their subordinates, while managers direct their employees without much feedback. Managers have a position of authority vested in them by the company, and their subordinates work for them and largely do as they are told. This management style is transactional, in that the manager tells the subordinate what to do, and the subordinate does it because they receive their salary for doing so. Managers tend to take a more directive and controlling approach, while leaders communicate to inspire and motivate individuals to drive the individual to success. This is accomplished through the level of assertiveness the manager or leader utilizes with the worker or follower. The level of assertiveness that managers and leaders utilize with their followers often differs also. Having the correct level of assertiveness with subordinates separates some managers from leaders. This skill is one that is hard to teach to new managers and great leaders seem to possess this quality naturally.

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The selection and training of employees is another area that managers differ from leaders. While the selection process of most organizations is step by step process training of staff members can take various forms. Mangers take a more direct and formal approach to training their subordinates and want their employees trained so they can have the skills to complete tasks in a timely manner. Leaders lean to a more informal approach to training that focuses more on stress management, creativity, personal effectiveness, and problem solving. Leaders take on mentor roles and coach subordinates or followers to be successful, while managers mainly want the task completed on time. According to Thorne (p32) coaching creates “rapport; it is set in the right environment; it is part of an ongoing relationship; it focuses on the individual; it shares mutual respect and the opportunity to learn from each other; it is the application of higher-level skills and competencies; and actions are agreed and followed up on”.

Leaders are more open to new ways of accomplishing a task or goal and are more open to taking risks, while managers can be more rigid about rules and procedures. Empowerment of individuals is a primary goal of true leaders. Empowerment gives decision-making prerogative to the employees, along with the discretion to act on their own without supervisor approval. Leaders want individuals to think independently, come up with new ideas, and are not fearful that someone will take their place. Leaders are more comfortable with risk and will see routes that others avoid. These routes may be seen as potential opportunities for advantage and leaders will happily break rules in order to get things done. While managers are less likely to take risks and want their employees to do things the way they have always been done, to have checkpoints, and are sometimes fearful that someone will take their place if they are not effective.

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Mangers are less likely to take constructive feedback from their subordinates. They tend to be the boss and feel that their way is the only way. In most cases it is the manager giving the feedback to subordinates during performance reviews. Leaders in contrast encourage constructive feedback from their followers. They feel this interaction is vital to the organization and the growth of their followers. According to Hayes (p 479),” effective leaders are skilled coaches and mentor those around them. They build team thinking and behavior, as well as communicate formative developmental feedback.” Mangers often work on a punishment system to reprimand their employees. With verbal warnings, written warnings, probationary periods, and termination being some of the punishments utilized, where leaders lean toward a reward system to motivate their followers. This distinction between managers and leaders creates a huge gap in employee job satisfaction.

It is evident that the more effective a professional leader is at coaching, the more comfortable they will be with the process of delegating. Mangers and leaders also have different ways of delegating work responsibilities. Managers want to have control over most items and have a hard time delegating projects entirely to their workers. Some managers feel that no one can handle the task except themselves. They look for perfection in all tasks and micromanage to reach the level of perfection they seek. While leaders tend to not get involved in the tasks that someone else is very capable of completing. They trust their followers to get the work done well enough. Even if they themselves could have done a better job at the task, they feel that they can contribute in other ways to the overall organization and that assigning responsibility to their followers helps grow their experience and skills. This also leads to the empowerment of their followers.

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The planning process has three distinct phases, namely, definition of basic objectives and goals; developing strategies and means (or strategic plans) and policies to implement objectives; and developing detailed tactical and operational plans, such as work procedures and practices, time schedules, and budgets. Managers can be rigid planners. This can sometimes slow down the process of getting goals accomplished. Often times with numerous conference calls, meeting and working lunches work simply does not get done because of all the planning going on. Leaders are more likely to take action and invoke action in others than to schedule planning sessions.

It is clear that there exist major differences between managers and leaders in the way they accomplish goals and complete tasks. Managers make sure that rules, regulations, procedures, policies and guideline are followed to the letter. Leaders realize the importance of entrusting others to work toward a vision not just simply follow the rules, regulations, procedures, policy and guidelines. Managers are also more production oriented, while leaders tend to be more people oriented. Telling people what to do does not inspire them to follow or produce results. Appealing to people and showing them how to follow will lead them to putting their heart into the project or cause and make them want to complete the task at hand. Leading persuade and motivate individuals to take risks they would not normally undertake.


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