Key Distinctions between a Manager and a Leader

Avatar Class Center | April 4, 2020 0 Likes 0 Ratings

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Nobody does their best work when they don’t feel understood or cared about, so the value of emotionally intelligent leaders is incredibly high. Tech leaders with a high emotional quotient (EQ) are better equipped to build happy, successful teams that can navigate unexpected challenges without crumbling under typical pressure.

How a great leader shows up in an organization. Because while all people managers oversee a team, that does not make them leaders.

So, what are effective leaders doing that managers are not?

  • They’re thoughtful and approachable
  • They admit mistakes and know how to apologize
  • They notice burnout and understand the importance of balance
  • They practice self-care
  • They honor everyone’s uniqueness

Timothy Gallwey
Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them.

Patrick Lencioni
Teamwork begins by building trust. And the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability.


Leaders partner with others. They ensure credit is shared. While a manager generally works in a silo. They are overly focused on their own/team goals.

If this continues, over time, processes break down. Your best people will leave that manager in frustration. However, if repaired, leaders can minimize barriers. They will enable their team to get things done.

To promote partnership, make collaboration a priority by:

  • Recognizing shared results
  • Not encouraging or expecting heroic efforts
  • Remembering partnerships require a shared burden. Ensure hero employees are not working in silence to make it “seem collaborative”

This can be challenging in the traditional functional organization structure. You may need to make difficult decisions around team members, or a manager, who prefers a narrow job scope. But you will gain a more agile, innovative team.

Coaching is an essential leadership skill. It truly separates a manager from a  leader. Because no one can be an expert in everything. Although a manager may try. Leaders, however, understand they can become experts in motivating each team member. They let the work flow from there.

To coach is not to do. It is to create a dialogue that leads to mindfulness. To action. Because a lack of confidence may be all that stands in the way of exceptional performance. A leader can help determine the blocks. They can coach around them. We will discuss the art of coaching more in upcoming articles.


While mentoring and coaching are not the same, for a people leader or manager the lines will blur. A mentor is an experienced and trusted advisor. So, some coaching you do with your direct reports will be more like mentoring. It is also valuable to mentor outside of reporting relationships. It leads to an exchange of ideas that might otherwise be out of reach.

A mentor-leader will inspire mentees. They help them feel connected. Provide growth opportunities… Think you haven’t had a mentor? Consider these relationships are often informal. Then think about people that have inspired and taught you.

Literary legends Truman Capote and Harper Lee were colleagues and best friends. They are often cited for their mentoring of one another.


In “8 ways to attract and hire your Dream Team” we identified the importance of advocacy. Show appreciation. Follow your team on social media. Encourage others to do the same. It is a point that cannot be overemphasized.

When you promote someone you are their advocate. You demonstrate the importance of the relationship. A manager won’t do this well. A leader will.

An effective leader is a partner, coach, and mentor. They promote others’ excellent work. They support skills advancement and practice. The best leaders help their team discover areas of opportunity.

*Not all situations will be coachable. If you find your coachee needs professional medical or psychological assistance reach out to your HR team for assistance.

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