Managers play an integral role in all businesses. From overseeing employees to ensuring daily functions get completed, managers help companies work efficiently. They are responsible for keeping staff engaged and meeting the company’s core objectives.

Some get confused about the difference between leading and managing. While it’s possible to be both a leader and a manager, the two roles have some crucial distinctions. Management concentrates only on meeting specific organizational goals, while leaders focus on empowerment and optimization as well. When managers focus more on leading, they can often inspire employees to reach their full potential and maximize business success.

Learn the differences between managing and leading and how to become a true leader.

Manager Versus Leader: What’s the Difference?

Understanding the differences between the two roles can help you develop your leadership skills. Both managers and leaders are in charge of directing groups of individuals, but the motivations behind their actions vary.

Here are some crucial distinctions between managing and leading:


Managers and leaders have significantly different motivations behind their actions. Leaders are interested in the overall vision of the company. They constantly consider the company’s current position and how it can be improved. They encourage teams to reach broad goals using creative ideas and inspirational tactics.

On the other hand, managers lead employees with particular budgets and company structures. Their visions depend on company policies and directives, and they use specific tasks to meet daily objectives. Essentially, leaders use influence, while managers use clear direction.


Next, the two roles also use different processes to achieve their goals. Managers receive clear-cut tasks from other company executives. Then, they break down these tasks into smaller segments and organize their department resources. For instance, if they receive a large project from their executives, they would separate it into smaller tasks and assign them to staff. Then, they would provide clear instructions to employees based on company directives.

However, leaders focus more on influence and inspiration rather than assigning work. They consider the broader impact of projects and how they will help employees develop their skills.


Overall, the managerial role is clearer. Managers hold specific jobs within the company structure, usually with a clear job description from the company. For example, managers might be in charge of an IT department or the human resources team.

Leaders often play a more ambiguous role within businesses. They don’t hold specific titles or don’t have to be authorial figures in the company. Leaders show personal concern for the success of employees and company goals rather than completing particular projects.

Often, managers are more successful when they use leadership techniques. By considering comprehensive company goals and employees’ personal success, they can inspire others to work more efficiently. In other words, the best managers are leaders as well.

5 Ways to Stop Managing and Start Leading

If you want to focus on leading rather than managing, it helps to evaluate current behaviors. To get started, you can implement more leadership techniques into your management strategy.

Here are five ways to become more like a leader:

1. Be a Better Listener

Great leaders tend to listen more than they speak. They encourage hearing employee input, whether about company objectives or personal struggles. Leaders listen carefully to employees and take considerations seriously.

If you want to behave more like a leader, reevaluate your communication techniques. Establish an open-door policy where you encourage employee feedback and listen to concerns. Remember to listen more than you respond, and work hard to understand staff insights and questions. Stronger listening techniques make your employees feel more respected. In turn, they might find more value in their work and improve efficiency.

2. Be Open to Change

Leaders are always open to new changes. They constantly look for ways to enhance the company and implement new ideas. Whether they come up with innovative ideas or listen to employees’ ideas for improvement, leaders stay open to the concept of change.

Listen to your staff’s suggestions for improvement in the department. You’re their leader — they want you to hear their concerns and enact positive change. By listening to other opinions, you can make changes that benefit the entire department. And remember that growth requires change, so don’t be afraid to try new workflows, communication styles or objectives.

3. Give Clear Expectations

When you set clear expectations, employees can quickly understand and complete objectives. You typically set expectations during training, when you explain the fine details of the position and other housekeeping notes. But you can continuously explain your objectives for the position, especially when staff members show confusion or concern.

For instance, if an employee makes a critical mistake that halts the progress of a project, you can take the time to reestablish your expectations. Explain what you expect from them on typical projects and why their work matters. Show them you value their contributions and encourage them to ask as many questions as they need. The more employees understand what you expect, the more thoroughly they can complete tasks.

4. Use Empathy

In recent years, multiple studies have proven the importance of using empathy in the workplace. Employees face many daily stressors, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted lives. These stressors can reduce motivation and productivity. However, studies show that empathetic leaders can encourage feelings of engagement, increase employee retention and assist with work-life balance.

Strong leaders are empathetic. They understand others’ feelings and work from a place of compassion. You can show empathy to your workers by talking through their thoughts and feelings. Consider employees’ personal circumstances and how these impact feelings and behaviors. Try to approach meetings from a place of understanding instead of confusion.

5. Be Supportive of Your Employees

Lastly, great leaders show support for their staff. Leaders are invested in individual success, both in and out of the workplace. Let your employees know they can rely on you for guidance and encouragement. When someone performs well on a project, be sure to congratulate them. Remember to show appreciation and support your employees through successes and failures.

Become a Better Leader With Dame Leadership

Leaders inspire others to become the best versions of themselves. If you want to transform your managerial skills and become more of a purposeful leader, Dame Leadership can help. We work with leaders crystalize their purpose, align their organizations, achieve extraordinary results, and create a lasting legacy.

Consider attending Dame Leadership’s upcoming annual live leadership learning event, the Evolution22 Conference. This year, the conference will take place on Tuesday, October 4, 2022, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Spooky Nook Sports Complex in Manheim, Pennsylvania. It will feature Seth Godin as the keynote speaker on the topic of Leadership vs Management. Seth Godin is an internationally known author and speaker in the business field who was named “one of the top 21 speakers for the 21st century” by Successful Meetings Magazine.

In addition, this year’s conference includes speakers, roundtable discussions and breakout sessions with leaders across multiple industries to help attendees become better and more purposeful leaders.

Register for the Evolution Leadership conference today.