How Leaders Differ From Managers – How They Succeed


In a previous article, I looked at seven characteristics that determine an Entrepreneur. Here in that article I will take it a step further and identify each of the seven characteristics as it applies to each of the seven categories. Specifically, I will explain to those who are unfamiliar with what each category represents and why each person would be drawn to that role (or have been drawn to that role). In doing so, I hope to assist you in determining if you have the characteristics of an Entrepreneur and/or a Professional. You might even find that you identify with more than one category.

Entrepreneurs are visionaries. They don’t conform to traditional rules of organization (i.e. rules about meetings, rules about delegation, rules about compensation, etc.) and they don’t take the easy road in thinking that it’s more important to get the work done quickly. Instead, they are highly skilled problem solvers who believe that collaboration and teamwork are the key to success. As such, they are self-directed, goal-oriented, and do not like to spend their time managing people.

Professional leaders, on the other hand, are managers who possess great managerial skills but lack the vision and creativity that are required in being an entrepreneur. Professional leaders are also very self-directing because they do not enjoy the benefits of team play or working as part of a team. They may also lack the entrepreneurial skills that most entrepreneurs have, and thus would not be good managers. Entrepreneurs would be considered the ” exceptions” here, while professional leaders are the norm.

Professional leaders differ from managers in several ways. First, they possess great vision but are also more focused than managers on building a business. Second, they seek incremental results but are not easily distracted by the latest trend or gossip. And third, they are willing to put in the extra effort to ensure that the work gets done right, but they don’t mind taking a hit along the way. If all the hits that they take are “a lot”, but the results are “unattainable”, they won’t be concerned. However, if the hits are “overwhelmingly positive”, and they manage to pull off the work, they will be determined to keep at it, and will work even harder to make sure it is done right the first time.

In the two decades since I founded our company, we have hired many managers and promoted many executives from within, and everyone has left with a distinct sense that the difference between managers and leaders is that the former are more goal-oriented. In addition, we have found that most of them have significant entrepreneurial skills, which they brought to our company and helped us develop. We’ve also noticed that although they came from a professional background, many of them have a more “people” perspective. They tend to value people more and help others succeed rather than focus on achieving a specific goal.

In short, managers need to realize that they aren’t leading or managing while they are doing their job; it’s just one of the jobs. Therefore, they need to spend some time on every project making sure it gets done right because their goal as a leader is to help others get things done. On a related note, they need to understand that they need others to get things done too, and not just do it themselves. Now that you know how leaders differ from managers, I hope you will use this information to improve your own leadership style.