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Understanding the role of a manager and a leader

Updated on October 12, 2011

Understanding these terms can be confusing as sometimes a manager can also be a leader but a leader is not necessarily a manager. This opinion rests on the perception of those individuals with which these individuals come in contact. How we perceive individuals depend upon their interaction with us in our daily activities. This interaction will cause us to form an opinion of either a manager or a leader. Another point to remember is this opinion may or will be different as the interaction of these two entities will vary between each of us.

Before discussing what each of these roles represent we need to look at their definitions and how they fit into the corporate world and society. The definition of a manager according to businessdictionary.com is an individual who is in charge of a certain group of tasks or a certain subset of a company. They generally have a staff or group of people who report to him or her.

There are different levels of managers within each business with different responsibilities. The higher or more critical the responsibilities assigned increases the opportunity for individuals to be leaders. One of the keys to being a good manager and possibly a leader is clearly identifying the tasks or responsibilities involved for those who report to him/her. Once this is accomplished it is important for a manager to let the group do its thing.

Individuals tend to work well under managers who let them form their own methods for accomplishing their responsibilities if such methods do not violate company or organizational policy. In this respect a manager can guide or provide input/suggestions to improve the efficiency of individual employees. One characteristics of a manager which prevents him/her from being a leader is micro-managing the tasks of individuals who are the group for which must be managed.

In identifying the definition of a leader it is important to remember that leaders are not limited to management level individuals. The definition of a leader according thedictionary.com is a person who rules, guides or inspires others. We as individuals are presented many times with opportunities to be a leader. It can be a result of our experience of information we discovered to resolve an issue affecting the business environment. Being a leader can also involve becoming an expert or the focal point for specific functions within an organization. To some extent this type of responsibility can also be considered a manager.

One of the aspects of being a leader is to inspire others. The nature of how some managers work in the corporate world brings respect and is an inspiration to those who whom he/she comes in contact. Too often there are individuals who are in management positions but do not know how to lead the individuals that report to them. In this situation a manager is not a leader.

There are many fine managers in many organizations in society. The key as to whether they are leaders rests with the actions taken by the individuals they manage.


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    • Diana Grant profile image

      Diana Grant 5 years ago from London

      I think your final paragraph sums it up very well, that you can judge whether someone is a good leader by the results.

      I also think that managers should allow the people reporting to them as much autonomy as possible, where appropriate, as people function much better when they have some say in how a job is carried out. Obviously, people who are not responsible or reliable enough should have less autonomy, but, on the whole, people respond well when managers respect their ability to perform, and they do tend to come up with the goods.

      No doubt there will be many people who disagree with me on this, but, as a manager (a partner in a small firm of solicitors), I was well impressed by the diligence of my staff, and sometimes I felt as though the office could run quite well on its own, and that my input was merely the technical knowledge, and telling people what was wanted.

    • Endure Today profile image

      Endure Today 5 years ago from Louisiana

      "How To Win Friends and Influence People"

    • Dennis AuBuchon profile image
      Author

      Dennis AuBuchon 5 years ago

      Thanks for stopping by and for the comment, glad you liked it. You can contact me through linkedin or through my website. I am always ready to help others.

    • jaykatt profile image

      jaykatt 5 years ago from Covina, California

      Got your link from linkdin and read your article. It is good and interesting to me. I would like to get more in depth managerial tips from you. I'm voting up and useful, and thanks for a relevant hub.