To Manage or Lead?

To Manage or Lead?



Here are some of my thoughts on what the difference is between a leader and a manager.

I’m guessing you have never loved working for a manager. Maybe it’s been okay, but you weren’t especially motivated to go to work. When interacting with your manager, there was no overwhelming feeling of inspiration. That’s because managers don’t lead people toward a goal. They also don’t find solutions, but respond according to the book or status quo. Managers operate in the system. They have a lack of ability to enhance processes or create a new system. It’s even worse if you have a bad manager.

Bad managers scold others for failure when trying something new. They create a subdivided team by turning employees against each other. That leads to the elimination of friendly competition, because employees are looking out for themselves in this toxic environment. Bad managers take all the credit for success. If they are so bad at what they do, how did they get their positions? Probably because they were good at a lower level role and promoted solely on that performance which had nothing to do with leading people.


Working for a leader is different.

If you ever worked for a leader, you know it. You know it, because you were on a journey. On this journey, the leader set a clear expectation of where you were going as a team and how you were going to get there. The leader motivated, encouraged and most of all cared about everyone on the team. And you would do anything for this person. Not blindly, but because you believed in the vision and felt the care.

You probably pushed yourself harder, but it was easy too. There was passion in what you were doing. Obstacles looked like challenges to overcome instead of one more thing to turn your day into hell. Everybody on the team was working together and seemed to be having a good time.

It’s not just the team who benefited, but the customer too. Since everyone was so happy, it carried over into serving customers and they were much happier too. This produces a cycle of good energy flowing from employees to customers and back again. A leader is aware of this energy and does whatever he/she can to keep it going.

The differences in style between a manager and a leader are apparent, but what might not be clear is what drives a leader. The following is what is at the core of a leader from my perspective:

  • Care for others
  • An obligation to provide clarity
  • Passion for serving
  • An unrelenting drive toward what should be