A Comparison Between Leaders and Managers

Lazy to read? Listen to it instead.

I must follow the people. Am I not their leader?
—Benjamin Disraeli


Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán

Back in 2015, Dionis left her high-paying job in a widely known pharmaceutical company in Singapore. Although the benefits provided for its staff is incomparable to her current company that she is working for right now, her decision to resign was due to the autocratic nature of her manager. Currently, she is content working for a small IT company, albeit taking home much lesser than what she was paid before, as her new manager treats her much better. Her new manager does not ridicule her when she asks questions relating to her work, and he involves himself in her career development. Dionis are among a handful of those that left their jobs due to dejection with their bosses whom lack leadership qualities. This is detrimental to the company because high turnover rates ensues and thus a reduction in overall productivity. Therefore, it is more valuable for a company to employ leaders than managers.

Firstly, leaders are more capable of producing high quality and productive workforce that is beneficial to the company. Leaders build a mutual relationship with their subordinates. In doing so, they create a sense of belonging, motivating them and creating enthusiasm in their staff. Staffs will work harder to meet tight datelines, and are more reliable to getting the job done. Some staff will also be willing to work longer hours because of this sense of belonging. On the other hand, managers usually create barriers between themselves and their subordinates, creating a dissociative relationship; therefore, staffs are more inclined to be less enthusiastic to carry out their duties effectively. Creating mutual relationships is important as the staff will have the drive and motivation to work for someone who values them, thus increasing workplace productivity.

Another difference between managers and leaders is: the former have employees while the latter have fans. People usually idolize a person with great positive qualities and disregard someone who does not. For example, a leader has a following that go beyond themselves, creating buzz either on social media or by word of mouth. This helps in building their personal brand and thus attracting high caliber job seekers to them. On the contrary, a manager will only have staffs who seldom talk about them or if they do, it will likely be pessimistic and thus tarnishing the manager’s reputation. In the end, having a group of followers is more prestigious for the leader as well as the company’s brand name.

Finally, one of the key differences between managers and leaders is: empowerment. Leaders empower their staff to carry out their assigned roles independently, giving them full autonomy. For example, the boss is out of office, and a decision has to be made on an urgent matter. The company’s vendor has failed to expedite a crate of urgent goods due to some unforeseen circumstance. The staff who was delegated by the leader will decide on the best course of action to engage another vendor that can deliver the goods on time. While on the other hand, a manager resists delegating work to their staff and this might lead to the customer seeking business elsewhere. Thus, empowering the staff will be more beneficial to the company it will prevent any delays in executing a decision in the aforementioned scenario, thus reducing loss of profits or potential customers.

In summary, a highly motivated workforce under the helm of a leader is more profitable to a company as it helps to increase the company’s productivity, raising the company’s brand name, and finally, it deters the likelihood of losing current or potential customers. But the critical factor for a company that employs leaders rather than managers is that it impedes high turnover rates that equates to incurring huge losses in productivity and profits.


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