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Are you a Manager or Leader?

'Titles define manager while character defines a leader.

The terms "manager" and "leader" are often used interchangeably in organizations and communities.

But are they the same thing?

To find out, let's examine the critical differences between these two essential roles.

It was the early morning hours, and Nelson Mandela could hear the rats scratching around in the cell block.

He had been in prison for more than a year, and things were not going well.

The African National Congress (ANC), the political party he led, was banned, and he and his colleagues were arrested and detained without trial.

But Mandela refused to give up. He knew things would only get worse unless they fought back. And so he continued to lead the ANC from behind bars, writing letters and organizing protests.

Then, in 1961, everything changed.

'I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society where all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities.

It is an ideal that I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.' He insisted during his famous trial.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island, a harsh penal colony off the coast of Cape Town.

He would spend the next 27 years in prison, undergoing brutal treatment at the hands of his captors.

But it was during this time that Mandela underwent his crucible experience.

He faced immense pain and suffering but also learned how to persevere and cope with difficult situations.

And most importantly, he learned how to lead.

When Mandela was finally released from prison in 1990, he transformed into a leader of international stature.

He used his prison experiences to unite the fractious ANC and lead them to victory in the 1994 South African elections.

He symbolized hope for everyone fighting for justice and democracy worldwide.

Nelson Mandela, a symbol of leadership

1. Perfect Resume Versus Crucible

A manager typically has a perfect resume, while a leader often has a "crucible experience."

A perfect resume indicates that someone has never made a mistake or faced any challenges in their career.

A crucible experience is one in which a person has faced significant challenges and emerged more vital for them, like Nelson Mandela's prison experience.

Leaders often have crucible experiences because they're not afraid to take risks or face challenges head-on. These experiences make them better equipped to handle difficult situations and motivate others to do their best work.

2. Command and Control Versus Authenticity

One of the key differences between a manager and a leader is how they approach their team members

. A manager typically uses a "command and control" style, giving orders and expecting them to be followed without question.

A leader, on the other hand, takes an authentic approach.

They build relationships with their team members and focus on motivating them to reach common goals.

3. Hierarchical Versus Empowerment

Another key difference is how these two types of people view hierarchy within an organization.

A manager typically sees hierarchy as a necessary part of any organization, while a leader views it as something that can be empowering for team members.

When you empower your team members, you allow them to thrive and grow within the organization. This leads to a more positive work environment and increased productivity.

4. Self-Interest Versus Organizational Good

The manager is more concerned with their career advancement than with the organization's good.

A leader is focused on what's best for the organization. They want to see the organization succeed, even if it means sacrificing their interests.

5. Short-Term Versus Long-Term

The fifth difference between managers and leaders in their respective focus on short-term versus long-term goals.

A manager is typically more concerned with meeting short-term targets, while a leader is focused on long-term vision.

Leaders understand that achieving long-term goals requires planning and dedication, and they're willing to make sacrifices in the present to achieve success in the future.

6. IQ Versus EQ

A sixth difference is that managers tend to rely more on IQ (Intelligence Quotient), while leaders place greater importance on EQ (Emotional Quotient).

IQ is a measure of cognitive ability, while EQ measures emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is essential for leaders because it allows them to better understand and motivate their team members. It also helps them build strong relationships with others, which is essential for effective leadership.

7. External Validation Versus Intrinsic Contribution

Finally, another key difference between managers and leaders is that managers seek external validation, while leaders focus on intrinsic contribution.

Managers are often driven by recognition from others, such as awards or promotions.

On the other hand, leaders are driven by a desire to make a positive impact.

They want to see the organization succeed, even if they don't receive personal recognition for their efforts.


As you can see, there are many key differences between managers and leaders. While both roles are important, they require different skill sets

. If you want to be an effective leader in today's digital world, you need to be able to manage different types of people and personalities. You also need to be able to motivate and inspire your team members to reach common goals.

But being a good manager isn't enough - you also need to be a leader. To lead effectively, you must have a clear vision for the future and understand how your community fits that vision.

I hope this article has helped you understand the difference between managers and leaders.


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