What are the differences between managers and leaders in terms of trait (leader) versus role (manager) in terms of how this is relevant to a health care environment?

Expert Answers
M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As a trait, being a leader is being a member of a community who stands out for his or her strong skills within all leadership dimensions, which include

  • affirming
  • influencing
  • pioneering
  • commanding
  • resolving
  • including
  • energizing

A leader is not a title, but a role that, as your question correctly points out, comes naturally as a personality trait.

A manager, on the other hand is reaches or is placed on a position of leadership with our without skill. The manager's role is to look over the tasks that are required of an operation. This role is also responsible of assuring that quality service or production is going to satisfy current and potential clientele, for which an action plan must be put in place to be revisited as often as possible.

Both terms do refer to the act of taking over as the head of a group, but both terms cannot be used interchangeably. When it comes to health care, hence, the role of a manager can be of a lot or very little value, precisely because it depends on the leadership skills or naturally-born leadership traits that the managerial job will be successful or not.

In a health care setting, since the world of health care is so demanding and demanded for, a manager must be a leader. This is because the problems are more prone to occur in a health care business than in any other. The issues most prone to surface include:

  • customer service
  • speed of service
  • availability of resources
  • human resources
  • quality of service
  • type of available treatments
  • financial aid or financial protocols in place
  • environmental issues (epidemics, pandemics)

For a manager to be able to handle so many potential disasters, he or she must have absolute control of his or her problem solving skills, ranging from open communication, to listening skills, to deflecting and averting conflict, conflict resolution, effective feedback, and the ability to accept fault even when there is none.

Imagine those doctors and nurses who had the first bouts of Ebola back before it was even known what it was. The chaos that is often encountered in health-care settings leads to conclude that, out of all personnel, these professionals should be the most strongly equipped to deal with people, with the elements, with the economy, and with life and death, which are constant and awful constants in their careers.

wanderista | Student

A leader is someone with high communication levels, organisation and drive that can lead a group of people to success. Being called a leader is more often seen as a positive trait or quality of people, and indicates they may be a good candidate for management.

A manager is a professional role that organises people or teams. They are generally highly educated and sophisticated people who possess leadership qualities. 

A managing position in a health care environment could be Chief of Medicine. A leader could be seen more broadly, as anyone can possess leadership attributes. However, a Nurse Unit Manager could be seen as a leader, for example.