Modern Sensei: Leader vs. Manager

“Managers light a fire under people; leaders light a fire in people.” – Kathy Austin, Management Consultant


Well, it’s not a secret that the leader is a true Modern Sensei. By all means. Observing the whole picture about their personality, behavior and vision, we should respect because of their energy and will to make everything around them better. Being a complete leader is art. But still, it seems that mixing qualities of leaders and managers is common to everyone, right? In the previous article we explained closer what qualities are mainly crucial in leaders life. Especially in business.


Leaders think and talk about the solutions. Followers think and talk about the problems.


Do you agree with this quote? And can you make a really exact distinction between management and leadership?  Abraham Zaleznik, who was a leading teacher in the field of the psychodynamics of leadership, said that the difference between managers and leaders lies in the conceptions they hold, deep in their psyches, of chaos and order. Managers embrace the process, seek stability and control, and instinctively try to resolve problems quickly – sometimes before they fully understand a problem’s significance. Leaders, in contrast, tolerate chaos and lack of structure and are willing to delay closure in order to understand the issues more fully. So, the best conclusion – business leaders have much more in common with artists, scientists, and other creative thinkers than they do with managers. Organizations need both managers and leaders to succeed, but developing both requires a reduced focus on logic and strategic exercises in favor of an environment where creativity and imagination are permitted to flourish.


“Great leaders don’t set out to be leaders. They set out to make a difference.” – Jeremy Bravo


The terms management and leadership are not the same. Leadership requires habits and features traits that are far beyond management duties. Both leaders and managers have to manage the resources at their disposal, but true leadership requires more. So, what are the main differences between managers and leaders?


#1 Rare vs. copy

Leaders are unique. They are self-aware and work passionately to build a differentiated personal brand. They are quite comfortable in their own shoes and willing to always walk with them. They’re original and transparent. On the other side, managers don’t want (or refuse to adopt) own leadership style and mimic other’s competencies and behaviors.


#2 Taking risk vs. controlling

Leaders have the will to try new things even if they may fail badly. They know that failure is often a step on the path to success. On the other side, managers work to minimize risk. They seek to avoid or control problems rather than embracing them.


#3 Deep relations vs. processes

While leaders focus on people, managers focus on the structures necessary to set and achieve goals. They focus on the analytical and ensure systems are in place to attain desired outcomes. On the other side, leaders build loyalty and trust by consistently delivering on their promise.


#4 Coaching vs. directing

Coaching is never easy. But leaders are good at. They know that people who work for them have the answers or are able to find them. They see their people as competent and are optimistic about their potential. But managers assign tasks and provide guidance on how to accomplish them.


#5 Vision vs. goals

Leaders motivate and activate people to be part of something bigger. They know that high-functioning teams can accomplish a lot more working together than individuals working individually. Managers focus on planning, setting and accomplishing goals.


If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you


And this is completely true. In order to become a fantastic leader, you should go beyond yourself. What this exactly mean? That means beyond your own boundaries, beliefs and ways how to handle team and business as a leader. In the first place – don’t doubt in your capability to learn new things, approaches and paths. Numerous participants said that CAL 1 Course helps them to find really crucial guidelines in order to be better, better and finally – fantastic leaders. Certified Agile Leadership classes with Olaf Lewitz are exceptional each time in our Agile Months. Olaf is an Agile Leadership Guru, a guy who lives leadership in practice and masters foundation of leadership. Just like in video below:


Inspiration for this article was a piece of written art by William Arruda, published on Forbes.