The Real Difference between a Manager and a Leader

04 Feb
by Bridget DiCello

Managers do things right. They create and ensure adherence to processes. The measure performance and hold people accountable. They increase efficiency, speed and outputs.

Leaders do the right things. They inspire trust and engage others to follow their vision. They rally the troops. They build strong teams. They innovate, think long term and challenge the status quo.

Both roles are important, and critical to success.

These are typical definitions of a manager and leader, and they miss something VERY important.

Recently, I heard Osama bin Laden and Hitler referred to as effective leaders because they were able to rally their followers towards a vision and build a strong team. This pinpoints what the definitions above are missing.

Leadership is about two things:

  1. Having a unique vision and being able to rally others towards it, AND
  2. Bringing out the best in the people who work with you.

As human beings, we are each created with a purpose in life; strengths, talents and skills to be able to accomplish that purpose; and both obstacles and assistance that meet us along the way. We are at our best when we are using our strengths to become the best that we can be. When we only have a manager, they help us use our skills and knowledge to accomplish things, but not necessarily to become a better version of ourselves (Matthew Kelly has brilliant work on this topic.)

Leadership is about connecting with a person to help them to access their amazing potential, of which most people never get anywhere near discovering even half of it, experience success, and applying that towards the inspired vision of an entrepreneurial leader. Leadership towards something that is immoral or unethical is simply manipulation. People are not created to do evil. We may not all agree with each person’s vision, and hence the bountiful variety of people, businesses and charitable efforts. However, a leader is not a leader if they don’t work to bring out the best in those who work with them.

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