Group happy at work leadership vs management

Are you a leader or a manager?

Some managers are also good leaders, and some leaders are also good managers, but these two roles are not always present in a single person. Organizations need both leaders and managers in order to function well, so it’s important to be able to distinguish between the two roles.

Managers vs. Leaders

Management and leadership are both means of developing and supervising aspects of the business that drive results. So, what’s the difference?


Managers are rule-followers who crave structure.

They drive results through directing systems and processes to be sure operations run correctly. If a procedure falls out of line, a manager will seek to swiftly correct the action. Managers execute vision in an authoritarian manner, assigning work-focused tasks designed to reach the end goals. Managers tend to get results through incentives rather than guiding and inspiring others.


Leaders have a clear vision of the desired end result.

They are often charismatic and drive results by motivating and inspiring their followers. They work collaboratively and encourage others to think outside the box. With their clear vision, leaders inspire their teams to do the best they can. They focus on the people within the team and give them responsibilities based on their personal strengths, not their job titles. Individuals feel empowered to own the role they play in the organization and are motivated go the extra mile. Leaders coach employees to help them reach their goals, further empowering them to perform well.


Leaders are willing to take risks to achieve desired results; they break the rules.

Managers control risk at all cost to achieve results conservatively; they make the rules. Leaders are innovative thinkers who look for ways to improve past results by doing things differently. If new results are desired, sometimes new procedures are needed. Leaders are willing to take what they see as necessary risks in pursuit of greater success.


Effective communication is so much more than just a means of establishing rules, tasks, and assignments. Communication is how beneficial professional relationships are developed. Leaders are people-focused and strive to develop relationships with team members. This helps them better understand their team’s natural strengths and how roles should be allocated to best benefit the organization. A leader who is an effective communicator inspires momentum that is almost tangible.

Managers + Leaders = Success

In business, rules do need to be followed. Structure needs to exist. But if you only have managers within your organization, employees will never take their own initiative to improve. Rather than taking ownership of their role and contributing innovative ideas, they will only complete the tasks they have been assigned.

Sometimes rules need to be broken. Systems that worked five years ago may be obsolete, and it takes the vision of a leader to inspire that change. Effective leadership is always questioning and challenging processes to encourage growth.

Organizational Balance Through Leadership Training

In order to tap into real growth and progress, businesses need strategic leadership.

Management is necessary to maintain procedural accuracy, but the innovation, inspiration, and change that strong leaders provide are critical elements of long-term organizational success. Leader and manager development programs accelerate participants’ abilities to communicate clearly, optimize talent, and successfully execute on important business goals.

Balancing management and leadership excellence in your organization is imperative. With the greater sense of purpose that comes with understanding the role they play in the organization and why it matters, employees will be more inspired, engaged, and invested in achieving the organization’s vision. Leadership fosters a culture of sustained accountability and ownership. Evaluate your organization’s processes to see if a leadership-development program may be right for you. Contact us today to get the leadership training your organization needs to excel.

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About the Author
CMOE’s Design Team is comprised of individuals with diverse and complementary strengths, talents, education, and experience who have come together to bring a unique service to CMOE’s clients. Our team has a rich depth of knowledge, holding advanced degrees in areas such as business management, psychology, communication, human resource management, organizational development, and sociology.

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