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Managers and Leaders: Are They Different?

An important component of an online Master of Business Administration (MBA) program is learning about leading and managing people. For professionals who wish to advance their business careers, it is likely there will be at least some amount of management involved. Is there a difference between managers and leaders when it comes to their roles within an organization?

Perception of people by managers and leaders

One key difference between managers and leaders is how they perceive the people who work on their teams. In fact, using the word team is an indicator that someone has a leadership mindset. A leader relates to his or her employees as a team, as people who have personal goals and potential and talents to develop. Leaders tend to view their jobs as exciting opportunities to relate to other people, to grow together and to achieve success as a group. They seek to inspire the best in their teams and motivate them to go further than they could go on their own.

Managers, on the other hand, tend to focus on projects, outcomes and hard-and-fast results, rather than personal growth in their employees. Managers see the bottom line for the company and seek to drive their department to achieve success (and profit) through hard work, determination and effective use of time and skills. Managers have superb organizational skills and help those around them to more efficiently accomplish any task at hand.

Different characteristics for different situations

Every organization needs a variety of people to fill the roles necessary for profit and success. Without efficient managers, projects would not be organized and completed. Without strong leaders, employees would become frustrated, lose morale and possibly quit. A leader can cast vision to help an organization push through difficult times and achieve new levels of success, while a great manager can help employees understand what is needed for systems and processes to run more smoothly.

Importance of both managers and leaders

It does not have to be either-or where the question of mangers versus leaders is concerned; it can be both-and. Both leaders and managers are crucial to the prosperity of any business. Furthermore, any individual can develop his or her own leadership and management skills with the right training and experience. An online MBA program will prepare graduate students to fulfill management roles in their desired field, and it can also shape their outlook to become better leaders.

Learn more about the UT Tyler online MBA program.


Nayar, V. (2013, August 2). Three Differences Between Managers and Leaders.

What is the Difference Between Management and Leadership?

Zaleznik, A. (n.d.). Managers and Leaders: Are They Different?

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