Managing vs Leading

Oftentimes, the terms leader and manager are synonymous and interchangeable, but there are definitely differences between the two. Do you know if you currently identify as a leader or a manager? Read on to find out more about the two and how you can make a real difference in your workplace.

What is management? Regardless what your job title is — executive, director, supervisor, or manager — you manage people. You are responsible for people’s career potential. You have the ability to assign tasks, delegate responsibilities, hold the team members accountable, provide them with the resources to succeed… build them up or to tear them down, in a nutshell.

What is leadership? A leader is someone who people follow without any form of duress to do so. Leaders usually have a title, similar to what a manager has, but is not mandatory. Leaders have the ability to get the most out of their employees while making them stronger in the process.

Counting value vs creating value. You’re most likely counting value, not adding it, if you’re managing people. Managers count value; some even reduce value by disabling those who add value. In contrast, leaders focus on creating value, saying: “I’d like you to handle A while I deal with B.” A leader is as much a value-creator as his or her followers are. Leading by example and leading by enabling people are the true hallmarks of action-based leadership.

Circles of influence vs circles of power. Just as managers have subordinates and leaders have followers, managers create circles of power while leaders create circles of influence. A circle of power has more to do with the number of people who report to you, plus the people who report to them, and so on. A circle of influence is something more abstract: it does not fall into any organizational chart. The quickest way to figure out which of the two circles it is you have is to count the number of people outside your reporting hierarchy who come to you for advice. The more that do, the more likely it is that you are perceived to be a leader.

Leading people vs managing work. Management consists of controlling a group or a set of entities to accomplish a goal. Leadership is more about an individual’s ability to influence, motivate, and enable others to contribute toward organizational success. Influence and inspiration separate leaders from managers, who instead assert power and control. In India, Mahatma Gandhi inspired millions of people to fight for their rights, and he walked shoulder-to-shoulder with them until India achieved independence in 1947. Gandhi’s vision became everyone’s dream and ensured that the country’s push for independence flourished. The world needs leaders like Gandhi who can think beyond challenges, have a vision, and inspire people to convert challenges into opportunities.

If you have yet to learn and develop certain leadership skills if what you wish is to transition from being a manager to becoming a leader, the first step has been accomplished: you’ve possibly recognized what those skills are. With time and effort, you can grow to becoming more of a trusted leader than a feared manager. When employees and managers trust and respect each other and come together with a clear vision for the company, managers disappear and leaders emerge with a team of valuable talent behind them.