Is a Leader Different from a Manager? How and Who is More Important?

Is a Leader Different from a Manager? How and Who is More Important? | Leadership | Emeritus

Leaders and managers play crucial roles in the success of any organization. While both positions are similar and equally essential, they require distinct skills and approaches to be effective. There is a significant difference between leader and manager; understanding each role’s nuances is necessary to build an effective team and achieve success in a fast-paced business world. This guide gives a comprehensive overview of leadership and management by exploring the difference between leader and manager roles, and how they contribute to organizational success. 

Difference between leader and manager

What is Leadership?

Leadership is the ability of individuals to inspire, influence, and guide others toward a common goal or vision that benefits the organization as a whole. It encompasses several essential functions, including providing direction, delegating tasks, making decisions, setting goals, and fostering a positive work environment. A successful organization requires effective leadership to ensure that individuals and teams work together on shared objectives. 

Types of leader

  1. Visionary leaders: They create a compelling vision for the future and inspire others to work toward it. 
  2. Transactional leaders: This type of leader relies on rewards and punishments to get the best out of their employees. 
  3. Charismatic leaders: They inspire and motivate others to behave in a specific way by being enthusiastic, energetic, and charismatic.
  4. Transformational Leaders: These leaders encourage and inspire employees to innovate and create new ways to grow and improve a company’s chances of success.

Irrespective of their leadership type, the roles, and responsibilities of leaders tend to be similar across the board. 

Roles and Responsibilities 

  • Encouraging and maintaining the team’s focus on shared goals
  • Communicating effectively to ensure that team members are on the same page and  everyone understands their roles and responsibilities
  • Creating a positive work environment that fosters creativity, productivity, and engagement among team members
  • Supporting the well-being of each member in the team
  • Recognizing and rewarding hard work and achievements
  • Seeking opportunities for continuous improvement
  • Coordinating and collaborating with management to achieve organizational objective 

ALSO READ: 11 Essential Skills Every Prospective Leader Ought to Have

What is Management?

Management refers to a series of actions, including organizing, planning, coordinating, and supervising resources with the aim of accomplishing specific tasks productively and effectively. Managers ensure that tasks are carried out efficiently and hold the responsibility of defining objectives and targets for their team, assigning duties, providing resources, and supervising the work to ensure it is executed effectively. Additionally, they track progress, offer feedback, and adapt the plan accordingly.

Classification of Managers

  1. Frontline managers: These managers oversee and direct the routine activities of staff and employees. 
  2. Middle managers: They are responsible for implementing the strategies and plans developed by top-level management and communicating them to the frontline managers.
  3. Top-level managers: These managers—CEO, COO, chairman, for instance—head the organization, take high-level decisions, set goals and objectives, and are responsible for the overall direction and strategy of the organization.

As listed below, a broad spectrum of roles and responsibilities apply to all types of managers. 

Role and Responsibilities 

  • Defining and understanding the organization’s objectives and establishing goals, as well as developing plans and strategies to achieve them effectively
  • Organizing and managing available resources and tasks to optimize efficiency, productivity, and growth
  • Guiding and supervising subordinates, providing feedback and support to enable them to perform their tasks efficiently
  • Recruiting the right staff for the job, building teams, and improving the functional efficiency of the organization
  • Monitoring and controlling employee activities and taking appropriate measures to enhance their performance and achieve organizational objectives

Top 5 Differences Between Leader and Manager

What is Talent Management

The difference between leader and manager roles are as listed below: 

1.  Role 

A leader guides others, shaping and influencing their behavior to achieve a common goal. Their primary responsibility is to lead by example and motivate their team to work towards a shared objective. In contrast, a manager is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the organization in order to refine and optimize processes, systems, and structures. While the leader’s role focuses on providing guidance and direction, a manager’s role is more operational. 

2. Authority

A significant difference between leader and manager roles is their authority. A leader’s authority emerges from the trust and respect they have earned, and this is not necessarily derived from their position in the organization. Their informal authority is based on their personal traits, skills, and expertise. In contrast, a manager’s authority is formal and draws from their position within the organization. Their authority is typically linked to their job title, level of seniority, and specific responsibilities assigned to them by the organization. However, it is essential to recognize that while a manager’s authority is formal, they can still establish informal authority by exhibiting strong leadership qualities that earn the trust and respect of their subordinates. 

3. Vision 

Leaders are driven by their desire for change and innovation: They create a vision, formulate big, long-term organizational goals, and inspire others to work together to turn them into reality. On the other hand, managers are responsible for establishing the organization’s structure. They play a crucial role in realizing the leader’s vision by ensuring that the necessary resources, systems, and processes are in place to execute the plans effectively.

4. Risks 

Leaders are often associated with taking calculated risks to achieve a desired outcome or advance their organization’s progress. In contrast, managers focus on minimizing risks and controlling potential negative outcomes. They are responsible for ensuring that risks are assessed and managed to align with the organization’s goals and objectives.

5. Skills 

Successful leaders must possess certain innate qualities that set them apart from others. They build their unique personal brand and create a loyal following to help them achieve their goals. On the other hand, managers have employees who seek direction and guidance to achieve their and the organization’s goals. Thus, a manager must manage resources, personnel, and operations effectively and be skilled in planning, organizing, delegating, and controlling tasks to achieve goals within the specified timeframe and budget.

ALSO READ: Top 12 Leadership Courses to Advance Your Career in 2023 and Beyond

To conclude, while the difference between leader and manager roles exist, both are equally important in achieving the success of an organization. To develop the requisite leadership and management skills, you can explore Emeritus’ leadership courses developed in collaboration with the best universities around the globe. 

Write to us at

Difference between leader and manager

About the Author

Content Marketing Manager, Emeritus Blog
Manasa is the content ninja that every brand needs. Apart from being an expert in tech-related trends and digital marketing, she has found her calling in edtech. Her 10-year-long tryst with education started with a teaching fellowship for underprivileged children, followed by a stint as an edupreneur. It gave her the perspective she now uses to create impactful content for Emeritus. Manasa loves the life of a digital nomad that allows her to travel and hopes her reels go viral on the Gram.
Read More About the Author

Courses on Leadership Category

Courses inHealthcare | Education Program  | Emeritus

Emory Executive Education

Communication Strategies for Healthcare Leaders

6 Weeks


Last Date to Apply: May 28, 2024

Courses inLeadership | Education Program  | Emeritus

Kellogg Executive Education

Leading Growth Strategy: Drive Exponential Growth With a Proven Framework

6 Weeks


Last Date to Apply: May 29, 2024

Courses inLeadership | Education Program  | Emeritus

Cambridge Judge Business School Executive Education

Strategic Thinking for the CXO

8 weeks


Starts on: May 29, 2024

US +1-606-268-4575
US +1-606-268-4575