Distinction between a leader and a manager

The leaders are responsible for devising the long term strategy and goals of the organization while the managers strive to ensure that the daily operations are carried out as planned. Managers prefer certainty (The Wall Street Journal)and organized schedules while leaders are required to take bold risks and even guide the organizations into uncharted territories. The managers do standardized tasks on regular basis including managing the factors of production while leaders strive to figure out ways to increase the productivity of human capital and inspire them to do their best. Managers mostly get things done through formal authority but leaders seek to influence their followers through charisma and inspiration (Changing Minds).

Former advisor to U.S. President Bill Clinton, Steve Carey once stated, “I obey a manager because I have to. I follow a leader because I want to.” (Forster, 2011). This shows why leaders are often the agents of change because they obtain voluntary cooperation from their followers and convince them of the validity of their decisions. As a result, the followers are more enthusiastic about the success of the strategies and goals laid by their leaders.

Leaders are also the organization’s link to the outside world and spend substantial time outside the organization. Thus, they are more aware of the changes taking place in the external environment and have to respond to them to ensure the competitiveness of the organization. In contrast, managers spend most of their time within the organization and seek efficiency by standardizing operational tasks wherever possible. Thus, managers prefer stability as opposed to leaders who seek flexible organizational structures. But due to rapidly changing competitive environment, more and more managers are being encourage to adopt some of the leadership qualities to increase workers’ productivity as well as loyalty to the organizations.





Changing Minds. (n.d.). Leadership vs. Management. Retrieved January 11, 2012, from

Forster, N. (2011). Maximum Performance: A Practical Guide to Leading and Managing People at Work. Saudi Arabia: Al Faisal University.

The Wall Street Journal. (n.d.). What is the Difference Between Management and Leadership? Retrieved January 11, 2012, from