What Are the Major Differences Between a Manager and a Leader?

CoachHub · 23 November 2021 · 6 min read

Managers and leaders: transform your talents

Today, managers and leaders are both essential for the development of an organization. However, many business professionals sometimes have difficulty understanding the difference between the two terms. Because no, leadership and management are not synonyms. However, it is quite possible, and indeed, desirable, to be both a manager and a leader.

Manager vs. leader, what’s the difference? How to move from manager to leader

Manager features :

By definition, managers are in management. In other words, they organize and manage a team to achieve a professional goal. A manager’s missions are therefore various:

  • Set goals
  • Organize and manage a team
  • Give directions through frank and transparent speech
  • Delegate with confidence
  • Listening to team members on a daily basis
  • Empowering and valuing employees
  • Accept the right to make mistakes

In addition, a manager is a profession, a function within the company. Managers are thus defined as such on their job description.

Leadership characteristics:

By definition, leaders inspire and guide teams by their exemplary nature and reputation for high potential. Far from being a profession, it is more a matter of social recognition. Employees thus see a leader as such as a result of the initiatives carried out. In other words, it’s often the group itself that assigns a leader with the title rather than the established hierarchy.

A natural leader has:

  • Excellent communication and listening skills
  • The global and strategic vision of a project
  • Unfailing integrity and humility
  • Resilience to always progress
  • Legendary charisma and often integrity

Manager vs. leader, what’s the difference?

Vision of a project

A leader often has a general and long-term vision of a project with attention and actions usually intensely geared towards the fulfillment of this vision. A manager, meanwhile, divides the overall project into several small objectives. He or she then makes sure that each goal is completed and within a specified time before moving on to the next. Delegation and organizational qualities are exceptionally important to be a successful manager.

Risk management

To achieve the vision, the leader is ready to do anything, even to take risks. And failure is not feared. Leaders are more likely to regard it as a right of passage to achieve success. Managers, meanwhile, cannot take the risk of putting their society (workplace) in peril and, therefore, define the safest strategy in order to achieve their objectives. A good manager’s mission? Planning ahead to anticipate and minimize risks.

Reaction to unforeseen events

A good leader is always proactive, ready to take the initiative for any necessary action and is always one step ahead. In other words, they are not intimidated by changes and unforeseen events. A manager, meanwhile, is more in a reactive approach. They take decisions in response to an identified problem or change.

Role within the company

A leader inspires others. In other words, they don’t tell people what to do or how to do it but show them by their actions. In that sense, leaders inspire people to give the best of themselves. In short, being a leader comes down to being a natural source of motivation. Conversely, the manager’s role is leading a team, and a good boss must be able to set clear directives and precise tasks to achieve the goals set within a specified time frame.


A leader is often elected by peers. In other words, they are typically surrounded by admirers and supporters who appreciate not only their work and are prepared to support all their projects. On the other hand, a manager is surrounded by employees who are obliged to follow their instructions. They do not listen out of free will but out of obligation. Therefore, you could say that the leader appeals to the heart, while the manager appeals to the head. This is why a good leader reduces the talent drain. and increases employee retention rates.

How to move from manager to leader?

Value your talents

It is estimated that a third of French companies do not have a clearly defined talent management or talent acquisition policy. However, talent management strategies, such as onboarding, have clearly demonstrated their effectiveness on employees and the performance of organizations. Indeed, more than half of companies with the highest growth rate have established talent management policies.

Of course, developing talent and valuing employees is not just about managers – it is about valuing and recognizing the strengths of each individual. And that’s what makes it so successful : considering each actor in the company as a susceptible talent, through its skills, creativity and relationship, to contribute to the development and success of the entity fully. It is an actionable leverage for employer branding strategy and employee retention.

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Manager and leader through innovative training

Innovation is at the heart of HR issues today. Thus, to propose processes new and intuitive, like a distance learning platform, would not only increase the efficiency of managers but would also avoid increasing the digital divide between the private and professional spheres. Because, apart from during their working time, employees have access to many online services that simplify life. So why don’t they find this same agility within their business that would also allow the development of skills?

In this context of disruptive learning and development processes, your company must therefore turn to digital learning. What does this mean concretely ? For your corporate training plan, opt for a digital corporate university, blended learning or mobile learning. Thanks to one of these innovative training methods, you will gain competitiveness by making true leaders out of your managers.

Coaching at the service of talents

Many companies are implementing a managerial training plan. Their goal is to make their employees the leaders of tomorrow. However, this practice seems insufficient to become a manager and leader because companies are increasingly resorting to coaching. And for good reason, if experiential learning in training remains necessary in order to acquire know-how and technical knowledge, it is, on the other hand, essential to work on the skills to develop one’s leadership.

Knowing yourself better in order to perform is, therefore, a basic principle in modern management, just like dealing with emotions in public or learning to trust and inspire trust. Because talents must motivate and generate commitment, to convince of the merits of their actions, and to ensure the professional development of their employees.

Manager and leader, conclusion

Lack of resources remains the main obstacle to serving the ambitions of HR. And it is true that the word “investment” seems to have disappeared from the vocabulary of a majority of companies lately. The economic and financial crisis may have passed, but budgetary restrictions have been imposed on all levels of the organization. However, as economist Pierre Sabatier explained at the ICF Spring Forum (International Coaching Federation) in Paris on May 13, 2017, “an ongoing crisis is no longer a crisis, it is a mutation “. And he added that it was urgent and imperative to reinvest in human capital and “in the conditions necessary to develop [it]”.

At CoachHub, we share this opinion. We thus encourage career mobility, taking office and developing leadership through coaching.

To get the most out of your employees at all levels, we recommend taking a DISC personality test to identify personality traits and potential leaders to harness the assets they could bring to your company, that will also help strengthen your employer brand. It is a tried and tested tool for identifying high potential employees. Many career coaches also recommend an MBTI (Myers-Brigg) test. When it comes to DISC vs MBTI, it is an enormous subject, but fundamentally, it comes down to thinking versus acting ; MBTI focuses on how people perceive the world around them, while DISC shines a spotlight on behavioral style.

In a highly competitive working world, it is essential to stay one step ahead of the competition and never rely on the status quo. CoachHub offers professional digital executive coaching solutions, whether you want to attract new talent or develop existing employees’ leadership or management skills. We aim to unlock the human potential of your team and enable you to take your organization to the next level.

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Call us on +44 (0) 20 3608 3083 email us (mail@coachhub.com) or contact us below for a demo.

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CoachHub is a leading global talent development platform that enables organisations to create personalised, measurable and scalable coaching programmes for the entire workforce, regardless of department and seniority level. By doing so, organisations are able to reap a multitude of benefits, including increased employee engagement, higher levels of productivity, improved job performance and increased retention. CoachHub’s global pool of coaches is comprised of over 3,500 certified business coaches in 90 countries across six continents with coaching sessions available in over 80 languages. Serving more than 1,000 clients worldwide, CoachHub’s innovative coaching programs are based on proprietary scientific research and development from its Innovation Lab. CoachHub is backed by leading tech investors, including Sofina, SoftBank Vision Fund 2, Molten Ventures, Speedinvest, HV Capital, Partech and Silicon Valley Bank/SVB CapitalCoachHub is committed to creating a greener future.

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