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How Managers Differ from Leaders

Paper Type: Free Assignment Study Level: University / Undergraduate
Wordcount: 1605 words Published: 9th Jun 2020

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Most people know a leader when they see one. Leaders have specific traits that are a dead giveaway. Leaders are associated with good qualities. They are strong, caring, responsible, determined, natural born. If asked to name a leader many people will give you a straightforward answer without any hesitation. But ask people to name a manager and your answers may take longer to get.  Aside from the confusion on their faces as to why one would ask to name a manager, people associate being a manager with work. That association is not by accident. The role of a manager greatly differs from the role of a leader. Managers manage work, Leaders lead people. And even though managers are placed in leadership positions, they do not require, nor do they have to achieve the qualities of being good leaders.

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Although managers and leaders are terms that are used interchangeably there are distinct differences between them. Managers execute authoritative power to get their employees to bend to their will, while leaders use interpersonal relations to connect with their teams motivating them to listen to and follow them. A manager’s process is transactional, they just want to meet objectives and delegate task, while a leader’s process is transformational, they want to develop a vision and find a way forward. Managers are skilled at allocating work and getting results under any means necessary. Leaders focus on people and care about results but also care about their team and how they are progressing. Managers have a team of people ready to listen because of the authority they place on them whereas leaders have people following them simply because they are inspired by them. It is that inspiration that sets leaders apart from managers.

“The true mark of a leader is the willingness to stick with a bold course of action — an unconventional business strategy, a unique product-development roadmap, a controversial marketing campaign — even as the rest of the world wonders why you’re not marching in step with the status quo. In other words, real leaders are happy to zig while others zag. They understand that in an era of hyper-competition and non-stop disruption, the only way to stand out from the crowd is to stand for something special.” (Taylor, 2014, p.1). In a world of sheepish followers, it takes true courage for one to stand up and be a leader. A leader must possess certain traits to be a good leader. Many of those traits include having good judgement, being dependability, having decisiveness, taking initiative, leading with integrity, being loyalty, believing in their team and being knowledge of their work environment. For a leader to be truly efficient they must foster principles within themselves.  A leader must always know who they are and must seek self-improvement. They must also know their team and be able to access their strength and weaknesses in order to help them. A good leader must always set the example by always doing what is right regardless if they think their team is watching them or not. An effective leader always keeps their team informed, because they understand that proper distribution of information can be a huge binder between a leader and their team. They know that they must train their team as a team, ensuring that everyone gets the same level of training and that no favoritism is shown. Developing a sense of responsibility in your team is another effective leadership principle that helps to develop good habits in the future.  A good leader should also look out for the welfare of the team because not caring for you team will only serve to bite you later. Leaders will take full responsibility for their actions and blame themselves not anyone else. “Ultimately, leadership is not about glorious crowning acts. It’s about keeping your team focused on a goal and motivated to do their best to achieve it, especially when the stakes are high and the consequences really matter. It is about laying the groundwork for others’ success, and then standing back and letting them shine. – (Hadfield, 2013, p.14)”

The Oxford Dictionary defines a manager as, “a person responsible for controlling or administering an organization or group of staff (Lexico.com, 2019). The key word in this definition is controlling. Mangers are meant to control not build relationships.They mobilize the combined efforts and activities of various physical and human resources. This combine effort is then put into play in order to achieve a predetermined goal. Mangers are in a constant deadlock juggling two resources; physical resources like, money (capital), land, raw materials and various technologies and human resources. They utilize a process of organizing, staffing, directing and controlling for the organization to keep running and for the resources to keep being marketable.

The different managerial types are good examples of what is expected from managers. Those types are Entrepreneurial, Methodical, Conservative and Quasi- Professional.  Entrepreneurial Managers are good at getting their way. Their planning process involves implementing ideas that they feel work the best with little insight on what higher ups might want. Organization is not one of their strong suits because they often implement, “on the fly”, thinking that clashes with trying to keep up with an underdeveloped plan. Surprisingly they excel at directing with their “head honcho” personas in full effect at all times. They have no problem letting everyone know what their job is and how they should be doing it. Methodical Managers are the master planners of the management world. They pride themselves in having the most proficient and critiqued plans often involving control of every variable. They never get flustered with organization because they are already natural “control freaks”, so they always make sure that the plan remains on course without errors. This need to hold on to their plan gives them limited control in situations that they did not thoroughly plan for. Conservative managers operate on the “mom and pop”, sales model. They like things to be traditional and their planning will reflect their reluctance to change. They are often quite organized because they believe in things being just like the,” old days”, and will take pride in making sure younger generations see how it is done. They direct through a teaching model and do not mind passing along knowledge to subordinates which keeps a steady control over who knows what. The Quasi -Pro is what I would like to refer to as the “hip” manager. They strive on implementing a calculated blend of traditional and modern technique to keep up with an ever-changing market. They perform at the highest standard of every element; their planning skills allow them to always draft with proficiency. They have natural origination skills from years of experience and coming from a “different” time, this also allows them to better stick to their plans as well. Each of the types, although drastically different, have one main goal in common. That goal is to make workers perform. Managers are not put in place to build relationships or get to know their team. They work to manage how things are run and make sure things get done. They do not inspire; they do not work to create positive environments for their workers, and they do not seek to build meaningful relationships with the members of their team. Managers lack the ability to see past productivity. And those in a managerial position who don’t seek to be better leaders will continue to have limited vision for the future of their company and will hold their team back from performing at their best.

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Managers have the potential to be great leaders, but they get caught up and turn “industry” and create artificial relationships with their team. Their goal is to get things done and perform for the company. Leaders understand that there is more to their role than to just check off a list of tasks. They are there to lead their team to be efficient but to also create an environment where workers feels respected. It is that respect that defines what leaders do. They treat workers with respect because they see them as individual people. For managers it can become easy to see the same workers as just a well-oiled machine. If one part breaks you just replace it with a new one. Respect is needed for workers to do their best and close attention to that crucial detail is what makes a leader superior to being just a manager. If a worker does not feel like they’re being nurtured in an environment that respects them that says a lot about the way they are being led. Mangers are not required to create any type of environment other than relentless productivity. To leaders each worker has unique qualities and abilities that are not only irreplaceable but needed in order to keep the team going. Only when written will people see a correlation between the two but when lived out, one becomes more distinct from the other. In short leaders lead and managers manage.


  • Hadfield, C. (2013). An excerpt from Chris Hadfield’s ‘An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth’. Retrieved from https://www.macleans.ca/culture/an-exclusive-excerpt-from-chris-hadfields-an-astronauts-guide-to-life-on-earth/.
  • Taylor, B. (2014). Do You Pass Leadership Test? Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2010/08/pass-leadership-test.
  •                  Manager. (2019). Lexico.com. Retrieved from https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/manager


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