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What’s the Difference Between a Manager and a Leader?

Leadership and management are two terms that some may use interchangeably. For those with familiarity with both, however, the differences are stark. For business owners and entrepreneurs looking to build for longevity, adaptability and momentum, understanding the differences between these two roles is crucial. With too much of one and not enough of the other, teams risk finding themselves lost in the desert, unsure of where their focus should be.


What is leadership?

There are many definitions of leadership, but one we appreciate is this: ‘leadership is a process of social influence, which maximises the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal.’ Some of the key elements of leadership are summarised in this view, which states that leadership is not about authority, position or power, but is about influence, impact and outcome.

Leaders may also be managers. They may sit in the highest position on an org chart. They may also sit at reception, deliver your mail, and babysit your children. Leaders are not defined by their position and their authority but by their ability to rally others around a cause, unite purpose, and spend their social influence on working towards a shared goal.


What is management?

Managers play integral roles in team environments and are responsible for the management of people, resources, priorities and processes. While some leaders make for great managers, it’s not uncommon for leaders to possess more visionary skills than they do management skills. Managers need to care about the details, be able to delegate, direct their reports, provide training and upskilling, make difficult decisions and manage conflicts. Where a leader may use motivation to encourage employees to complete their best work, managers direct them, using their position within a hierarchy as their tool of influence.

Where a leader may trust their empowered team to execute on their vision, a manager will be checking that systems and structures are in place and are utilised.


Finding the balance of leadership and management

Without effective managers, teams can lose efficiency, clarity, and impact and fail to deliver on their organisational needs and goals. Without effective leaders, organisations risk remaining focused on daily outcomes rather than the long-term trajectory. By using the skills and abilities of both leaders and managers within your team, you can take a micro and macro view of your company’s continued success. Draw on these two different roles in order to build the environment you and your team need for the best work.

One powerful way true leaders inspire is by building leadership qualities in their team. When a team is made up of leaders, there’s no shortage of vision, creativity, problem-solving and curiosity. Building a team of leaders equips them to take the initiative within their work, look for opportunities, and champion their peers in the process of achieving daily requirements.

Virtual Adventures by Red Leaf’s Tracking Success virtual adventure immerses teams into the complex and ancient art of animal tracking. You’ll join an expert tracking team as they fight to protect wildlife and teach the next generation of trackers. By throwing your team into this real-world experience, you can parallel the tracking of unpredictable wild animals with the business landscape you operate within. Here, leaders and managers can both thrive, setting a clarity of vision and building the approach needed to execute it.


Give your team a high energy, high impact learning adventure that uses the Tracking Success Pathway to embed the Trackers Mindset, and watch the ongoing results as their leadership skills develop.

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