Managers manage and Leader’s lead. Simple as! But is it?

A manager’s primary responsibility is to plan, organise, and control resources to achieve specific goals within a business. They focus on managing people, processes, and systems to ensure that operations run smoothly and efficiently.

However, a leader’s role is to inspire and motivate people to achieve a common goal. They focus on building relationships and fostering a culture of trust and collaboration within a business. They are responsible for setting a clear vision and direction, communicating effectively, and empowering others to act.

When you are promoted into a role where you are managing people, you don’t automatically become a leader. There are important distinctions between managing and leading people.

What are the key differences?

Leaders create a vision, managers create goals: Leaders paint a picture of what they see as possible and inspire and engage their people in turning that vision into reality. They think beyond what individuals do. They know that high-functioning teams can accomplish a lot more working together than individuals working autonomously. Managers focus on setting, measuring and achieving goals. They control situations to reach or exceed their objectives.

Leaders are change agents, managers maintain the status quo: Leaders embrace change and know that even if things are working, there could be a better way forward. They understand and accept the fact that changes to the system often create waves. Managers stick with what works, refining systems, structures and processes to make them better.

Leaders build relationships, managers build systems and processes: Leaders focus on people and all the stakeholders they need to influence in order to realise their vision. They know who their stakeholders are and spend most of their time with them. They build loyalty and trust by consistently delivering on their promise. 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. They work with individuals and their goals and objectives.

Leader’s coach, managers direct: Leaders know that people who work for them have the answers, or can find them. They see their people as competent and are optimistic about their potential. They resist the temptation to tell their people what to do and how to do it. Managers assign tasks and provide guidance on how to accomplish them.

What are some important skills a leader needs?

  1. An understanding that you don’t ask people to do things you are not willing to do yourself.
  2. Being the first one to step up.
  3. Ability to empathise with how what they do affects the people around them.
  4. Recognition that they do not need to be the smartest person in the room, some humbleness, and a willingness to empower people who are better than they are.
  5. Ability to reflect on their own ability.

So, how can managers transition into a leader?

Look at the bigger picture: focus on going beyond targets to realise full potential and talk about a shared vision that everyone is working towards.

Stop micromanaging: managers should provide more autonomy to employees. They should trust their team members and leave room for creative thinking and active participation in the business.

Communicate well: ensure that the right message reaches the right person in the right way. To become good leaders, managers need to develop the art of communication. Make time to speak and ensure the message has an impact on the listener.

Provide timely feedback: annual reviews are good and necessary, but employees need regular feedback for both personal and career growth. Feedback helps employees understand what works and what does not.

At Hallidays HR, we offer a variety of services to assist you in navigating the complexities of a multi-generational workforce. Whether you’re looking to recruit new talent, develop bespoke onboarding processes, or provide line manager training, we are here to support you throughout the entire employee life cycle. If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email And of course, visit our LinkedIn page.