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Leader vs Manager – Which one are you?

Leaders and managers have the same achievement in mind – reaching their goals. But how will they get to their goals? Read below to find out the difference between the two.

There is a notion out there that some people are leaders, and some people are managers, and never the twain shall meet. It’s true that some of us are better at management and some are better at leading, but the truth is we are all managers and leaders. It does not matter if you have a title of manager, director or not; everyone has a natural capacity to manage and a natural leadership style. 

I do like the quote from Henry Mintzberg. “Managers who don’t lead are quite discouraging, but leaders who don’t manage don’t know what’s going on. It’s a phony separation that people are making between the two.” So, what he is saying is, who wants to work for a leader who cannot manage and for a manager who cannot lead? 

As a leader, you need to be questioning everything that exists in the status quo; is what we are doing the right thing? Is it done the right way? What could we do better? And who is doing it better? It’s the Apple versus Microsoft scenario that Simon Sinek summed up when he spoke at both organisations some time ago. To paraphrase the story, Simon got a gift from Microsoft of an amazing MP3 player to compete with the iPod, which they were so proud of. Later, in a car with the executive from Apple, he says, “Hey, Microsoft has this amazing MP3 player, and it’s going to take on the world,” to which the exec replies, “I am sure it will.” The executive was not afraid of the competition, and I guess at Apple they were already moving onto the iPhone. Apple is an easy example, as everyone knows them, but I use them here as they constantly question the status quo. Everyone has a management style, whether you think you are a leader or not; it is just part of who you are, and without going into detail here, look at Daniel Goleman’s theory on management types and emotional quotient. It is fascinating, and you will see yourself in there somewhere, so embrace it and work with it. 

With all that said, I am pretty sure that there is a massive amount of management going on inside Apple to make all those ideas come to life.  

The traditional thinking on management is that their role is to keep the status quo, take the business processes, rules and resources to achieve agreed goals through the team that they have. There is a juxtaposition between a leader who questions the status quo and a manager who maintains it. That is the essence of where the differences in the thinking about “are you a manager or a leader?” come from. Does this mean you can only be one or the other? No, just be aware that while maintaining today’s status quo, you can still be working on it. It is what was agreed to be done, so do that and revisit improvements and changes outside of that. 

So, which are you—a leader or manager? Well, both. You need to embrace it and enjoy it. For those of you in management mode, get out your leadership role and illicit feedback from your teams about the status quo and what could be done differently or better and suddenly you are leader – don’t fear the response. Being the manager does not mean you have the monopoly on all the good ideas, but you do get a veto if necessary. Those of you in leadership mode, don’t forget that there is management of the vision and the processes that make everything work, and sometimes you must be involved and get it done. 

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The client, part of South Africa’s largest financial institution, realised that it was not a platform destination of choice for the IFA market in SA. In an effort to address this valuable market and to futureproof their business they undertook to build a new investment platform. With this platform they needed to gain clarity and certainty on the appropriate brand and positioning to penetrate a highly competitive market and grow market share quickly.
We undertook a comprehensive global and local audit and research program, talking to current users of the brand as well as the target market IFAs. We looked at global trends and analysed behaviour across 3 markets. We spoke to competitors, partners and staff and then we made a recommendation. Created a new independent brand focused only on the IFA. Becoming the one thing an IFA really needed – a partner in their corner with no agenda other than to enable and facilitate their growth which would ultimately result in the platform growth.
INN8 a fintech investment platform brand “Changing the way investments are done in South Africa by becoming “The Adviser’s Partner.” We created the brand and developed its narrative and we launched it into a very tough closed market. To this day, we’re still punching above our weight and getting above industry average engagement across all our touch points.