Friday 19th July, 2019

Manager vs leader: what’s the difference?

“Of all the things I’ve done, the most vital is coordinating those who work with me and aiming their efforts at a certain goal.” – Walt Disney, founder of Disney


At first glance, they seem like the same thing – but they’re actually very different. Having leaders in your company determines whether the business is mediocre or exceptional, hence why Walt Disney said co-ordinating his people was ‘the most vital’ thing he did.

Read on to discover 10 key differences between a manager and a leader.

1. A manager has employees, a leader has followers

People work for a manager, but they follow a leader. There’s a big difference between completing a set of tasks and striving to achieve a common goal.

2. A manager controls their team, a leader trusts their team

A manager is in control of their team and will ensure work is completed, whereas a leader has mutual trust in their team and knows that they will work to the best of their abilities, even going above and beyond their set task list where they can.

3. Where managers direct, leaders coach

A manager will direct you to the right answer, but a leader will coach you to find it yourself.

4. A manager gives short-term goals, a leader conveys a long-term vision

Short-term goals are important, but a leader will share their vision with the team and inspire them to achieve it.

5. A manager is task-focused, a leader is people-focused

Whilst a manager will focus on getting projects and tasks completed, a leader will focus on ensuring every person in the team is invested in the project and will put their all into achieving it.

6. A manager will limit risk, whilst a leader will take it

In order to get everything done on time and without complication, a manager will limit risk as much as possible. A leader, on the other hand, is not afraid of breaking out of the status quo and will always ask why.

7. Managers rely on existing skill, but leaders strive to learn new ones

A manager knows their skills and the skills of their team and will use them to achieve their goals. However, a leader knows that nobody’s learning is ever done and will constantly strive for personal and team development.

8. A manager will consistently deliver the status quo, a leader is unafraid of disrupting it

A manager will ensure that regular tasks are completed on time, but a leader will constantly question the purpose of things and what can be done better. Managers deliver, but leaders will also innovate.

9. A manager gives tasks, a leader asks questions

Rather than simply hand out tasks, a leader will ask their team how they think they can best achieve certain outcomes. They get the team invested in the ideas and therefore inspire them to deliver the best results.

10. Managers manage, leaders lead

Obvious, but true. A manager will manage and deliver tasks, but a leader will create a vision and inspire others to believe in it.



Equilibrium takes leadership very seriously. In fact, the Equilibrium Academy has a dedicated Team Leader Academy for individuals who believe they have what it takes to be a great leader.

Harnessing this potential means that our employees are fulfilled, plus we get a brilliant team of leaders constantly steering us towards new ideas and possibilities.

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Equilibrium is a trading style of Equilibrium Financial Planning LLP and Equilibrium Investment Management LLP (Limited Liability Partnerships). Equilibrium Financial Planning LLP (OC316532) and Equilibrium Investment Management LLP (OC390700) are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and are entered on the financial services register under references 452261 and 776977 respectively. Registered Office: Ascot House, Epsom Avenue, Handforth, Wilmslow SK9 3DF. Both companies are registered in England and Wales.

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