Difference between managers and leaders discussion

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Today the term leader and manager are often mistaken to suggest the same meaning. It can become confusing as they are often used interchangeably. A manager is a title that requires leadership skills to be successful. You can be a leader without being manager, but unable to be a successful manager without being a leader. Obtaining the title as manager does not require you to be a leader, it is highly recommended for success in the role. At times mangers are hired without having leadership ability. We see them fail eventually due to not having this skill. Dessler (2001) says, “managers should have analytical competence (the ability to identify, analyze, and solve problems), interpersonal competence (the ability to influence, supervise, and lead), and emotional competence (the capacity to be stimulated by emotional and interpersonal crises)” (p.11) (Treacy, 2002). Management does not only include leading people but also includes following policies, supervising procedures, problem solving, and many other tasks usually all at once. Yukl states, most definitions of leadership reflect the assumption that it involves a process whereby intentional influence is exerted over other people to guide, structure, and facilitate activities and relationships in a group or organization (Yukl, 2013). Some characteristics of a leader are confidence, influence tactics, values, expertise, and can be detrimental to results. A leader will often share a vision of success and influence their followers to help achieve this vision. As a manager you are given a vision from senior leadership. You utilize leadership skills to help achieve this vision. Followers listen to managers because they must, followers listen to leaders because they want to.

After about a year of being a manager I realized how important leadership is to the role. I believe I was producing results, but not making an impact in my role until I started leading others. The characteristics I focused on while developing my leadership skills were character, relationship building, respect, knowledge, integrity, and empathy. I utilize these traits daily while leading a team of 30. I find myself encouraging new ideas, using the term we instead of I, emphasizing a team effort and, developing and encouraging those around me. Now 4 years into the role I have not only developed some of my leadership skills, but also began encouraging my team to do the same.


Treacy, V. (2002, November). What is the difference between leaders and managers: Part 1. We Lead Online Magazine (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

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