Management/Leadership Styles - The Difference Between a Manager and a Leader

Exploring the differences between a manager and a leader by highlighting different skills and characteristics these roles have.

After recently completing HubGem's Leadership Programme, I have learnt that it can be easy to have a misconception about the roles and terms of a leader versus a manager. In this blog, I will be sharing the key differences between these roles regarding skills and characteristics. 

What is the difference between leadership and management - skills and characteristics

As mentioned above, it can be easy to merge these two key roles, however, they both have key differences. A leader inspires and works to motivate and encourage their team to achieve common goals, whereas a manager oversees and focuses on organising and executing tasks within their team to reach a shared goal. Although there are clear characteristics and skills within these two roles, some characteristics can be applied to both, such as being understanding and having great communication skills.

Being a leader

Typically, a leader is responsible for setting a vision, seeing the bigger picture and developing a strategy to get there. Leaders see the long-term vision and goal and therefore need to have the right characteristics and skills to achieve this long-term goal by ensuring their team trusts and can rely on them.

Some of the key characteristics and qualities of a leader are:

  • Resilience
  • Optimism
  • Empathy
  • The ability to identify and nurture talent
  • To be able to communicate effectively 
  • Taking risks and championing employees

Therefore, by learning these characteristics, a leader will be able to inspire, motivate and challenge their team to grow, be the best version of themselves and reach their potential. It is important to note, however, that being a leader and embodying these skills can be learnt, meaning anyone can become a great leader.

The skills of a leader are mainly soft skills and can be learnt by individuals, such as decision making, having great communication, being able to build great relationships with your team being personable, and thinking strategically. 

You can put these leadership skills and characteristics to practice at work in many ways. You can build trust with your team and direct reports by being transparent and always having an open dialogue as this is key when communicating key points within your organisation and keeping them in the know. This also ensures your team are up to date with anything company-related. Building this trust and transparency with your team encourages your direct reports to do the same, which will create an open and honest space at work. This trust and open dialogue will also encourage a deeper relationship with your team members. By being a positive leader within your workspace, you will also spark positivity within your team. Some ways you can be a positive leader are by focusing on your team's strengths and providing positive feedback during regular one-to-one sessions. This will enhance a better working relationship with individuals, leading back to my previous mention of creating an open and honest space for your team. Therefore being an effective and positive leader doesn't just benefit your organisation, but encourages individuals within the organisation to also be great leaders by practicing the key skills and characteristics mentioned above.

Being a manager

A manager focuses on the details of executing the vision of the company and figuring out a process to get there. A key area that a manager may focus on is business objectives as managers are generally good at setting out tasks and have the ability to solve problems that may inhibit them in achieving these goals.

Some of the key characteristics and qualities of a manager are:

  • Maintaining the status quo
  • Mitigating risks
  • Being able to complete tasks effectively and on time
  • Being clear and direct
  • Being empathetic and understanding
  • Being open and transparent 

These characteristics enable managers to carry out their vision and overcome risks that come their way by delegating tasks to their trusted team and being able to support them in doing so.

Some of the key skills of a  great manager include being able to trust their team to work autonomously, providing coaching and mentoring where possible, giving useful and clear feedback, and taking time to teach their team new skills.

You can apply these management characteristics and skills in the workplace by helping your team in different aspects such as navigating change, tackling tricky tasks and giving clear and valuable feedback that will help them grow. It might be that as a good manager, you need to help your team navigate change within the company or help them navigate personal change. By embodying both empathy and understanding with your team, you can help turn any challenge into an opportunity and support individuals where needed. Like a good leader, a great manager needs to have the balance of being understanding and supportive of their team, whilst also taking business needs into consideration. It may be that in an open and honest conversation you have with a team member, they disclose they are struggling in a particular area. By being a great manager you can listen to this individual's needs and provide support which will help them succeed and provide value in areas they feel unsure about. Being a great manager isn't just about being able to manage a team, navigate tasks and maintain the status quo, but about listening to your team, being understanding and providing support where necessary. It is also key to remember that although you have the role of a manager, you work alongside your team and not above them.

Therefore by outlining the different skills and characteristics both a leader and manager have, it is clear that there are key differences with these roles. However, there are also some characteristics such as being open, trusting and having great communication that are needed across both roles. 


Similar blog articles:

➡️ What HubGem do to promote wellbeing

➡️ How to build a positive company culture

➡️ 5 things we learned from HubSpot's partner peer sessions

Gemma Woods

Gemma Woods

Gemma is a Senior Marketing & CRM Consultant at HubGem. She studied English Literature at University and is now keen to put her previous experience into practice and to demonstrate her love of creative thinking through content creation, and delivering excellent support to both her team and customers.

website graphics (5)

Are you ready to ditch clunky systems and spreadsheets?

We can help you streamline processes, enhance customer experiences, improve reporting and reach your goals easier than ever before with HubSpot CRM.

Latest Articles

Higher Education Marketer's Guide: How To Build A Successful Education Brand

Higher Education Marketer's Guide: How To Build A Successful Education Brand

Learn how to build a successful higher education brand with our guide. Discover key strategies, tools, and tips to stand out in the competi...

What is the HubSpot meetings tool and how to make the most out of it

What is the HubSpot meetings tool and how to make the most out of it

Leverage HubSpot's meetings tool to streamline the booking process for both parents and your admissions team.

Remotely Rocking It: Unlocking Your Confidence in Your New WFH Role

Remotely Rocking It: Unlocking Your Confidence in Your New WFH Role

Unlock your confidence in your new working from home role with top tips for remote success. Embrace communication, build relationships, and...