The Difference Between a Leader and a Manager


Even if there are thousands of articles written on this topic and even more books with this precise idea, I’m still very surprised every time someone with the “Manager” role on his or her business card, doesn’t understand what a big difference it is between being a Leader and/or a Manager. And even if it seems so easy, yet it’s not simple.

Through my article, I would prefer to highlight the most important difference (at least from my point of view) between a Manager and a Leader. And that is EQ. Or more precisely Emotional Intelligence. My strong belief is that EQ it’s the one that generates great results in any business, results shown in financial situations ultimately.

Being able to treat our colleagues with empathy, dignity, respect, proper communication (and not just any random words that one may consider being “communication”), can definitely have a huge impact in any organization. It’s very easy to make a simple calculation taking, for example, the next situation:

  1. You are the Manager of X Department/General Manager/VP/etc. You have a number of people in your team. Let’s say 5 people (you can put here whatever other number you want). Let’s say that, instead of being a true Leader, you choose to treat your direct reports (and not only) without respect, dignity, empathy, understanding. For how long do you think they will support this kind of treatment? One month, two, one year? In all this time, they will most likely: 1) search for new roles, OR 2) invest the minimum they can in order to deliver some results.
  2. How about the situation when you are, what I like to say, a true Leader? You treat all your people from your team like they are your colleagues, with a sense of equality. Being respectful, trustworthy, kind, and truly professional, it’s the norm and not the exception. You have some knowledge about human interaction and you genuinely treat everybody with understanding, assertively, and reliability. In all this time, your colleagues will: 1) invest their time, commitment, and energy, AND 2) do their best in delivering best in class results.

Example number 1 it’s equal with loss and waste through adds for new roles, destructive image of employer branding, hours wasted for finding and replacing the roles left empty, business put on hold or on others people’s shoulders when are roles left empty, and so on and so forth.

Example number 2 imagine what it’s equal with… A great cultural organization, people willing to invest their time and energy. Outstanding results speaking from themselves.  A very strong team, dedicated, wanting to go that extra mile. And so many more.

If you had the experience of having lived both those examples, what life lessons would you take from both of them?