Leader or Manager? The Key to Successful Leadership

Doing things Right or doing the Right thing? The Key to Successful Leadership.

Leader or Manager?

Have you ever worked with someone you considered a good manager? Are they just a Manager or a Leader too and if so, how would you know?  What does being a Leader really mean? What does a manager do and what does a leader do? Some people think they are the same thing, but in my view they are very different.

How are you managing?

Let’s talk management. To me, a good manager is a well organised individual, who excels at planning. They are students of productivity and performance. There’s the end goal and a deadline. The manager determines how we get there and can fill in the gaps.

Planning is a key skill of an efficient manager
Managers are good planners

The manager starts to plan, identifying a series of tasks and activities which must be completed in order to achieve the goal.

The good manager is an efficient delegator of resources; people, equipment, tools, skills, training, space, time. All of these are allocated appropriately across the range of tasks. Once work begins, the manager’s role is to oversee, monitor and regularly review progress, taking corrective action where necessary to ensure the project stays on track.

So what does a good leader do?

A good leader leads by being a positive role model. But here’s the key point: we must follow a good leader willingly. We follow because we’re happy to, and we understand why we should. It is clearly communicated to us.

The good leader is motivational, enthusiastic and inspiring. They create a positive momentum or slipstream which we’re more than happy to follow. They lead from the front. When you have to stand behind your team, constantly shoving them towards the goal, you’re not leading.


So, what do we need from our managers, supervisors or team leaders? Management or leadership skills? Both! The effective manager creates the plan with attention to detail. Resources are allocated appropriately. It is our leadership qualities which enable us to share the vision, positively and enthusiastically, not just telling but selling. Helping the team to engage and get on board willingly.

The manager encourages them to achieve the goal, the leader inspires them to achieve it too, but for themselves. The words of wisdom: A manager lights the fire underneath you but a leader lights the fire inside you.

In the words of Warren Bennis and Peter Drucker, “Management is doing things right, leadership is doing the right things”. What could you do today to inspire your team to buy into your vision, engage with the process and ultimately deliver better than expected?