What is the difference between the manager and the leader in an organization?

Expert Answers
thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A manager is a fairly precise term, referring to a specific form of supervisory role. Part of what defines a manager is a job description that includes the responsibility of acting as a bridge between higher level figures, such as executives, and workers. Normally several people report to a manager and a manager reports to someone higher in the corporate hierarchy. Managerial responsibilities may include hiring, staffing, monitoring employee performance, planning, and working out operational details.

The term "leader" is actually quite vague. It does not refer to a designated job description or specific set of responsibilities. Sometimes it is simply used as a term of praise for a good manager. Sometimes it refers to a person who motivates, inspires, or influences other people in an organization regardless of nominal job description. Often the term "leadership" is associated with charisma.

emblem | Student

Several attempts have been made to distinguish who a manager is from who a leader. A leader can be a manager but not every manager can be a leader. To lead simply means to posses the charisma to think beyond the ordinary, to forecast and to motivate a group so that the overall goal for an enterprise ( be it business, association or a people ) can be achieved. Everything starts with the leader and ends with him. A leader commences a journey alone, craft ideas to bring others on board and end up imparting concepts to develop the followers so that they can stand on their own. For a manager, he assumes a position to oversee an established set of policies and designate authority over lower line managers who assist him to achieve the designed policies from a top hierarchy level. Managers are usually associated with business organizations, and in most cases the argument comes to mean that the manager is in the person the " managing director " who is assisted by his team of executive directors responsible for thier operations activity over the departments they manage

leannelizmarie | Student


As stated in the previous answer, the term "manager" in a business organisation refers to a specific and highly structured job title or position. Managers will have different roles and responsibilities and may have widely varying skills, but they all have two things in common. First, they have workers who report to them and whose work they supervise. Secondly, they have higher-level managers to whom they report and are accountable. Depending on the size of the business, this hierarchy can go up several levels.

A manager may or may not be a good leader. People are very emotionally and socially complex, and a leader needs very specific social skills to entice others to follow and work for that leader's goals. Up until 1936, most of the business world assumed that these skills were innate; that is, natural talent that a person either had, or did not.

In 1936 Dale Carnegie published How to Win Friends and Influence People. Several other advice and self-improvement books, from Carnegie and others, followed. People began to realise that leadership skills could be learned. As more people learned leadership skills, more businesses realised that having leaders in management positions made their organisations run much more smoothly.

However even today, there is much debate on exactly how to define a leader. Kevin Kruse, author of Employee Engagement 2.0 and 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management, defines leadership in an online article for Forbes, a well-respected business magazine. He says:

"Leadership is a process of social influence which maximizes efforts of others towards achievement of a goal." (Kevin Kruse, April 9, 2013)

While the quote itself doesn't offer much information on the skills needed to achieve that process, Kruse does go on in the Forbes article to explain some of the qualities that separates leaders from non-leaders. Other authors to look to for insight include John C. Maxwell, Stephen R. Covey and Ken Blanchard. 

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