Just what is the difference between leaders and managers?

Are these two roles separate or interchangeable?
When does a manager become a leader and a leader a manager?
Does it depend on the title you hold within the business?

If you are a leader are you also a manager and vice-versa?

The role of Leadership and Management is a complex and difficult one, demanding a host of skills – technical and behavioural – for success.

I’m often asked to clarify the difference between the two roles especially at the start of leadership and management development programmes – and the confusion on learners faces when we start to discuss the difference is soon replaced with the ‘ah, I get it now’ look.

I have found the main difference in roles is simply that managers manage things (administer, maintain, control etc.) and leaders lead people (innovate, develop, inspires trust, challenge etc.).

Using the metaphor of the interchangeable hat – as a leader/manager of people you need to be conscious at all times of the situation you and your people are facing and use either your managers ‘hat’ or your leaders’ ‘hat’. Importantly understanding you cannot always wear one hat, no matter how comfortable it may feel, and disregard the other!

Using the other description of Transformational and Transactional also helps to clarify the roles – transforming how people work and behave by leading from the front whilst always having an eye on improving transactional processes and developing skills.

For leaders and managers to understand what they must do, and to achieve excellence in doing it, they need to understand the difference between the roles. This is a matter of definition – understanding how the roles are different and how they might overlap.

To remain competitive and to survive therefore, means change is inevitable.

How does the leader/manager meet this challenge to secure your business future?


Contact us now to find out more about the following programmes or to discuss your specific requirements – we can help!

Level 2
Certificate in Team Leading
Effective Team Member Skills
Diploma in Team Leading

Level 3
Leadership and Management
Principles of Leadership and Management

Level 3
Effective Coaching and Mentoring
Coaching and Mentoring

Level 5
Leadership and Management
NVQ Diploma in Management and Leadership

Endorsed for your bespoke in-house training:
Benefits your organisation through ILM monitoring and endorsing the overall quality of your in-house Leadership & Management programmes


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