Manager or Leader?

Is the requirement for a manager or leader? The management role is very distinctive, and very different, to the role of a leader. They have different objectives and require different skills.


... are organisers; they use authority and rules give direction, keep everybody aligned and cope with complexity. They keep track of things and control budgets. They are system based and rules oriented and are responsible for the performance of the organisation.


... create a culture and are responsible for the overall outcome of the organisation. They get the mission defined, interact with outsiders, show direction and inspire, influence and convince others to get things done. They are creative and see possibilities. They create things, change things and shake things up to achieve the mission.

Both roles...

... are critical to the success of a business. It is therefore important that the roles are clearly defined and understood, that we know who is performing each role and how they interact. We must identify the skills for both roles, understand the differences between them, and ensure that we have the right people.

Manager or Leader? - Review

This five-step review will enable you to check whether you have the right balance in your organisation:

  1. Identify and classify roles according to whether they are leadership or management roles.
  2. Identify manager and leader partnerships that are working. Identify those that are in need of rebalancing.
  3. Identify and review structures where no formal leaders are assigned.
  4. identify and review structures where leaders but no formal managers are assigned.
  5. Develop a needs-analysis plan for both roles. Include details of resources, successors and development requirements.

If you would like to find out more about our
programmes and services, please
call us on +44 (0)776 232 8462 or
fill out our enquiry form

Can managers become leaders, or
leaders become managers?

Yes, but it is a difficult transition. It requires changing one's mindset around the core competencies required.

Certain behaviours will need to be learned, and others will need to be unlearned.

Those making this transition will require guidance and support. However, managed successfully, the transition will benefit both the organisation and the individual.

Can someone be both a manager
and a leader?

There is undoubtedly some common ground between the management and leadership roles. Is asking whether a role needs a manager or leader the right question?

For example, a managers needs to use leadership skills in order to get the best out of their team. Likewise, leaders need to use management skills in certain areas of their roles.

However, there are natural tensions between the roles – organising and maintaining systems vs changing things, keeping track vs being creative, for example.

It is important to identify the natural tensions and make an informed decision about what takes priority. Doing this will aid the decision on whether the roles need to be separate or whether the natural tensions can be prioritised in one role.

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