People use the words “leader” and “manager” interchangeably, however they are not as similar as most would think. The question becomes: what is the difference between leadership and management?

Leadership involves getting people to believe and understand your vision and work with you to achieve those goals. “Managing” typically involves overseeing the day-to-day operations and making sure they are happening as they should. It is entirely possible for these two to cross-over in some aspects; however, for the most part, they each have very different philosophical underpinnings.

Think about the value of those around you. As a manager, you’re probably counting value while a leader is creating value. It is the manager’s responsibility to ensure that things are running smoothly. Their employees are like machine parts in the sense that they are interchangeable. Once hired, an employee’s role is to perform the functions of their position based on the standards presented to them by the manager. If the employee is not functioning as expected, then the manager replaces them with a “part” that will work better and keep the machine running.

Leaders look at this differently. There is a lot more teamwork involved as a leader desires the team as a whole to achieve the overall mission. It is usually the case that the current mission will change or adapt and this may have nothing to do with the team’s performance. Leaders want to foster success amongst the team members despite changing circumstances and optimize team performance. Leaders work with each of the team members to create the kind of value in each of them that breeds success as a whole.

Managers do not typically have the flexibility to take risks; the actions of their employees are a reflection of them and a metric of their job performance. Leaders also face this kind of dilemma, but for them, they view taking risks as part of the path to success, and if a risk results in an unplanned result, the leader views this as a learning experience.  Managers may not always have the luxury of taking risks and learning from mistakes within the hierarchy of many corporate structures.

When looking at differences and similarities between managers and leaders, there are instances where great managers can be effective because they are great leaders. It is important to recognize the difference in philosophy between the two and understand that, while there are some similarities, they are some very different philosophical differences between the two.