Manager vs. Leader: 4 Ways They are Different

Powerful Ways A Business Mentor

By: Ana Margarita Olar |

The words leader and manager are used interchangeably in an organization. But in context and meaning, they are quite different. The probable origin of the word manager comes from the Latin word “manus” meaning hand.

Another is the Italian word “maneggiare” which means to control. So the word manager means a hand that controls. The English word leader originates in the ancient root “leith” which means to go forth and die.

Aside from their origin, here are some difference between a manager and a leader:



A manager is someone with the set of procedures to be done. They choose the person they deemed suitable for the job.

They provide you with the set of duties and responsibilities. The leaders are different. Yes, you also have a job to do but with it come encouragement. They assign you with a task and then leave you to take care of it.

You decide, and figure a much better way of achieving a goal.


A manager will follow a set of rules to ensure that no mistakes are done. They have a painstaking detail on how things should be done. A leader, on the contrary, weighs the risk and benefits of taking a new course of action.

If the team can achieve better outcomes by doing things in a different way, why not take the risk?


A manager will provide a list of procedures to follow. So when an employee acts, there are two consequences with a manager: approval and disapproval. But a good leader does much more. Instead of telling do’s and dont’s, they motivate.

It’s a pat on the back, not because you succeed but because you have given your all. They encourage employees to work not just to get things done. They inspire you to give your best and be the best in everything you do.

It doesn’t matter if you are a team manager or a floor manager. Everyone deserves a reward for a job well done and the effort they exerted.


Under a manager, the employees work because they know the consequences if they step out of the line. It is all about not breaking the rules. A leader seeks to achieve more than control.

They seek a trust relationship with the team. A leader says: “let us trust each other and work together”. Employees value trust more than they fear the consequences for breaking the rules.

A manager and a leader are both needed in an organization. A manager is a position because the employees need a guiding hand. But they also need a leader to inspire and motivate them.