• 13 Feb 2020
  • SBS-ED
  • 4Min

Are you a leader or a manager? Know the difference

Are you a leader or a manager? Know the difference

What is the difference between a leader and a manager? Learn the difference; find out which you are and how to develop your leadership or managerial skills.

News headlines in the past few weeks have been dominated by the new coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China, including praise for China’s leader, President Xi Jinping, from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. WHO commended China and its leadership on its transparency and swift response to the outbreak.

What is the difference between a leader and a manager?

Yet, good leadership is not just about dealing with crises or managing people and tasks. According to 6Q, one of the main differences is that leaders have followers while managers have reports or people who work for them. Other qualities of a leader include being charismatic, positive and influencing others to embrace your vision.

We need both managers and leaders to keep an organisation robust. But it’s important to know the difference between the two, should you want to learn to lead by inspiring. Think you’re well on your way to graduate from manager to leader? Do this quiz to find out.

If you received mostly A’s, you might be more of a manager right now while mostly Bs indicates that you’re well on your way to becoming a great leader. To get you where you need to be, try brushing up on these other leadership characteristics.

4 ways to improve your leadership skills:

1. Embrace change and disrupt the status quo

Most managers work to processes or structures that are already in place, sometimes refining them as they go along. On the other hand, leaders are all about innovation and are the people disrupting the usual way of doing things, says Forbes.

2. Build relationships

The fastest way to tell whether someone is a good boss or not? The way they interact with their colleagues and employees. A leader will often enquire about a teammate’s pets, kids or family and grow their network outside the team, while a manager will focus on getting the job done and brush aside personal anecdotes.

3. Create value

By this, we mean leading by example and enabling people to take action. Harvard Business Review cites micromanagement and distraction as key indicators that someone is a manager and not yet ready to lead.

4. Ditch authority and focus on collaboration

Leaders earn the respect of both their colleagues and others outside their team or department by involving everyone in the process before coming to a key decision. Additionally, says Business 2 Community, this earns them followers instead of subordinates.


If you want to learn how best to approach your teams, why not enrol in our Management Development Programme? You’ll be able to get their buy-in with your overarching vision and strategy. Plus, Essentials of Coaching Programme will help you encourage individuals to think outside the box and pursue innovative ideas while learning more about your own personal development.

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