Is my manager also my leader?


One of the main reasons why I decided to study an MBA is to learn how to become a great leader and manager.  In literature, it has been argued whether leadership is similar to management. In this blog, I will explore the similarities and differences.

Both leaders and managers have to achieve company’s goals through teamwork. Additionally, because they are involved in teamwork, they should both have a high level of emotional intelligence skills.

People follow a leader due to positive reasons such as trust in the person, hope of success and excitement about the project (Toor 2011). Followers bond with their leader at a psychological level, as they have an influence relationship (Mullins 2013). Leaders inspire emotion and engagement and create a vision with which others can identify (Brookmire 2014). Leaders use personal appeal and according to Jim Lancaster, President of Lantech, leadership is about being able to push people in a direction they were fundamentally uncomfortable going (Sharma 1997).

On the other hand, people follow their manager because of his position in the hierarchical structure of the organisation (Mullins 2013, Toor 2011). Managers obtain a low level of emotional engagement with their employees, as their relationship is contractual and based on authority (Holmes 2009, Mullins 2013). Furthermore, managing is about executing orders in a structural hierarchy and about transactions (Toor 2011, Brookmire 2014). For example, a manager could tell his employee to finish a task to get rewarded, if not he will get punished (Brookmire 2014). Former CEO of ITT, Harold Geneen emphasises that leadership does not necessarily take place within the hierarchical structure of the organisation (Mullins 2013). He says “Leadership depends more upon man than upon the rank” (Sharma 1997:35).

Moreover, the difference between managers and leaders can be shown through the 7-S Framework of Watson.


This framework has been used to measure organisational effectiveness and to identify problem areas (Waterman, Peters and Phillips 1980). The framework shows that organisational effectiveness depends upon the interaction of 7 areas namely; structure, strategy, systems, skills, staff and finally, style (Waterman, Peters and Phillips 1980, McKinsey & Company 2014). Global Management Consulting Firm McKinsey used the 7 terms of Watson’s framework in order to differentiate leaders and managers. Leaders can be identified as focussing on the soft elements namely style, staff and skills (Mullins 2013). Managers, on the contrary, rely on the hard elements of strategy, structure and systems (McKinsey & Company 2014, Mullins 2013).

The Chartered Management Institute states that leadership and management style depend upon the circumstances and individual characteristics (CMI 2013). I agree with this statement as the effectiveness of leadership and the leadership style depends upon the total leadership situation (Mullins 2013). Three factors define which form of leadership is desirable namely the company, people in the situation and the broader social environment (Tannenbaum and Schmidt 1986). Furthermore, managers should adapt their leadership style upon the employee’s personality, the general situation, expectations of the company and the external environmental pressures (Mullins 2013).


As mentioned, managers can switch from one style to another depending on the environmental setting of the situation however they have to obtain a continuous personal management style. This own style will be influenced by the managers’ personality, experiences, personal history and values (Mullins 2013). A manager cannot radically change his personality and behaviour one day to another.

As for my future career, I would like to work for a manager who encourages and recognises his employees and uses appreciation as a motivator. I prefer people-oriented managers who focus on group collaboration. Moreover, he or she has to be an example of hardworking to employees and inspire them to increase performance and to obtain the business goals and results. Professor Reddin distinguishes 4 effective leadership styles depending on levels of concern for people and tasks. The leadership style I prefer to be managed by is executive. This effective style has a high level on relationship and task orientation (Mullins 2013). The manager using this style emphasise on motivation and collective commitment (Reddin International 2014). When I was working as a receptionist in a hotel in the South of France, the door of my manager’s office was always open to have a talk or to ask a question. During rush hour at the reception, my manager joined the other receptionists to help and worked hard to satisfy the clients. I felt like he supported me and that I could talk to him like he was my father. He often gave me feedback which motivated me to improve certain skills and to be proud and happy of my work. On the other hand, I have experienced a manager who had the less effective style deserter. This style can be identified as lack of any involvement in both tasks and individuals (Reddin International 2014, Mullins 2013). In a hotel in Luxembourg where I worked as a receptionist, my manager used to stay in her office with closed doors during the whole workday without any intention of involvement or interest in the staff. This was very demotivating for me as she didn’t support, motivate or learned me anything.

In this blog, I discussed the differences between leaders and managers and the best approach to manage employees. I will conclude with setting a goal for myself namely becoming a manager and as well a leader for my employees. Combining management and leadership will result in a long-term competitive advantage (Toor 2011).


Brookmire, D. (2014) ‘Managers or leaders?’ Leadership Excellence [online]31 (2), 27-28. Available from <; [11/05/2014]

Greenberg, H. and Sweeney, P (2011) ‘Managing or Leading?’ Chief learning Officer [online]10 (8), 26-29. Available from <; [11/05/2014]

Holmes, A. (2009) ‘A crisis calls for a leader and not a manager; Churchill would be just the man to solve the Royal Mail standoff, says management guru Anthony Holmes’ [online]Available from <; [11/05/2014]

Kouzes, J. and Posner, G. (2012) ‘Leadership Challenge.’ Leadership Excellence [online]29 (8), 3-4. Available from <; [11/05/2014]

Lewis, C. (2007) ‘How leaders manage’ [online]Available from <; [11/05/2014]

McKinsey & Company (2014) Enduring Ideas: The 7-S Framework [online]Available from <; [11/05/2014]

Mullins, L. (2013) Management & Organisational behaviour. Harlow: Pearson

Reddin International (2014) 3-D Leadership model [online]available from <; [11/05/2014]

Sharma, A. (1997) ‘Leadership: The manager v. the leader.’ II Solutions [online]29 (9), 34-36. Available from <; [11/05/2014]

Tannenbaum, R. and Schmidt, W. (1986) ‘Excerpts from How to choose a leadership pattern.’ Harvard Business Review [online] 64 (4), 129-129. Available from <; [11/05/2014]

Toor, S. (2011) ‘Differentiating Leadership from Management: An Empirical Investigation of Leaders and Managers.’ Leadership & Management in Engineering [online]11 (4), 310-320. Available from <; [11/05/2014]

Waterman, R., Peters, T. and Philips, J. (1980) ‘Structure is not organization.’ Business Horizons [online] 23 (3), 14-17.Available from <; [11/05/2014]


9 thoughts on “Is my manager also my leader?

  1. Management and Leadership are not only skills that can be trained, I personally think that a lot depends on the person’s character and professional attitude.
    In a lot of companies, the only thing that counts is the bottom line : cold hard cash, huge benefits, making more and more money…
    I am fully aware that a company cannot survive by not following the economical principal of making benefits, only the way one goes about it to achieve this goal is not always “kosher”.
    A large number of high end performers believe they have everything it takes to be a “top manager” or “born leader”, but very few have the natural ability to motivate their colleagues in bringing out the best in each one of them. It is a pity, because a bad manager/leader can throw away the company’s potential (=the people) in the blink of an eye and it is so much harder and much more time consuming to regain the trust and dedication once it has been lost.

  2. Both of the first two articles are great topics to explore in you studies and to keep with you through your career. Often these things can seem so obvious and yet there are so many people who do not realise it or do not stop to think about it.

    On a different note, I would recommend to broaden your research by also using the input of more ‘modern’ entrepreneurs. LinkedIn Influencers has some great entrepreneurs (e.g. Richard Branson) sharing their business experience and stories on LinkedIn. Your first two topics as well as many other interesting topics are often covered in their articles and it can give a more ‘alive’ input and broader perspective.

    Good luck! 🙂

  3. Manager and leader: they are not the same thing although it is possible to be both.
    Manager is a job position – with a specific place within an organization, with particular scope of responsibilities and competence. A manger is a function performed formally. Leader, on the other hand, not always. Leadership is about personality and charisma rather than a position.
    I think that managers perform according to a plan and requirements to achieve set goals, count value or can even reduce value by disabling those who add value. By contrast, leaders focus on creating vision and values.
    Leaders inspire people to follow. They develop talent and motivate people, whereas managers usually direct and control people.
    While some enjoy working under more predictable and highly regimented managers, I prefer to work with a manger who inspires and motivates. And who allows me to achieve the things that make me happy.

  4. Good article as it made me think about the Manager and Leader aspects of a job. I know that both are two different things but I never really thought about it before. In my opinion you should be a Manager with leadership skills although you can be a Manager without these skills but it might be more difficult to be respected by your employees and that they follow your “vision” of work.

  5. I have work experience with diverse teams and can only conclude that I prefer to work in a homogeneous team. Working together with different nationalities can be very challenging. Firstly, people speak different languages and have diverse habits and customs. Their way of thinking, visions and views can be different as well. A business should focus on gaining objectives as quick as possible and diverse teams will only slow down this process. Decision making will be slower as people from different nationalities have different views and discussing these will take time. Additionally, the members of diverse teams will need time to get used to each other, culture and habits of the other nationalities in order to work together effectively.

    1. You state that diverse teams have different views, visions and ways of thinking. This can be a challenge but as well beneficial for the organisation in order to change, innovate and have other perspectives. I agree that diverse teams can be challenging and hard to work in because of the different cultural backgrounds. But it can as well be enriching for the organisation.

  6. Business has evolved to a global scale as well, increasing the need for diversity in large companies. Different habits and customs can be very enriching. As for the language part I agree, but why would you hire someone who can’t speak the companies main language anyway.

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