Are you a manager or a leader? What the difference? What effect does it have on your employees?

Here are some of the key differences between managers and leaders, as shared by Next Generation:

  • Managers Give DirectionsLeaders ask questions
  • Leaders have followers – Managers have subordinates
  • Managers use an authoritarian styleLeaders have a motivational style
  • Leaders show what to do – Managers tell what to do
  • Managers have good ideasLeaders implement good ideas
  • Leaders create change – Managers react to change
  • Managers try to be heroes – Leaders make heroes of everyone around them
  • Leaders develop power with people – Managers exercise power over people 

Why are leaders different?

They’re not focused on a paycheck, a list, or themselves. They’re focused on other people. Putting others first. Helping others become more awesome. And in turn, helping the business succeed. As Inc. says:

“They focus on taking their team beyond what’s expected of them and empowering them to be successful at whatever it is they’re best at. And none of it for their own personal glory, but all for the good of the team and the organization. It’s ideas and possibilities that motivate a leader every day, not a paycheck.”

So we want to be leaders, to coach, uplift, inspire. These are all wonderful ideas. But what’s the practical side of it? How do we actually do these things when it comes down to the knitty gritty?


Three Qualities of being a Leader:

1. Leaders Provide Vision

Unlike managers, leaders don’t tell employees what to do–they paint a vision and inspire their employees. They live the values and lead the way towards the dream so that it can become a reality. While managing is a position, leadership is a quality. Leaders aren’t status quo maintainers, and their goal isn’t to put checks in boxes. They are agents of change, hungry, disruptive innovators, who go all in and bring everyone with them. How does this happen? Not by directing, but coaching. Not by enforcing rules but by building relationships.

2. Leaders Engage in Active Listening

How do you build great relationships with employees? One on ones are great for connecting with employees and hearing directly what’s on their minds; however, another rich channel to listen to employees is through third person survey platforms. This gives an aggregated view on what potential issues in the team may be, and it’s an excellent medium to crowdsource information and better understand what conversations to have.

Employee engagement platforms help to highlight necessary themes and show what’s on employees’ minds while protecting anonymity. This helps to support and inspire better conversation during 1 on 1s. While managers work from the top down, leaders build from the bottom up. They care about their employees and listen to them, and not just once a year. Leaders listen frequently, to make the employee experience the best that it can be

3. Leaders Help Others Succeed

Leaders are others-focused. Rather than trying to make themselves look good, they build others up so that their employees can succeed. Leaders brag in private, but they apologize in public. While managers micromanage, leaders inspire and guide their employees towards an outcome. Instead of picking out problems, they help others find the solution. As Entrepreneur says:

“Leadership isn’t about you but about helping others become successful and about removing the obstacles — excessive bureaucracy, interpersonal conflict, uncertainty and toxic cultures — that hinder that success.”



Leaders lead because they’re motivated by inspiration, not a paycheck. Because of this, they invest in their employees. They go the extra mile. They lead by example.

As the Financial Times shares:

“Management and leadership are different things, but managers and leaders should be one and the same person.”

And this person–this leader–is irreplaceable.