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Leadership vs Management – What’s the difference?

The titles ‘leader’ and ‘manager’ are among the most commonly used job descriptions in recruitment and are often used interchangeably, despite having different meanings.

In the recruitment industry the words ‘manager’ and ‘leader’ often refer to the same role – Team Manager – or Team Leader? This can lead to confusion for Consultants who are being promoted into these positions and in reality, their company is often looking for combined qualities. However this is not always so easy. Unfortunately, not all managers are good leaders, and some leaders might not make good managers. But what are the differences? Below are some traditional ‘dictionary’ definitions of leaders and managers.

What is a Manager?

A manager has the responsibility of overseeing an organisation or department through fulfilling fundamental tasks of management, which include: planning, organising, leading and controlling.

Good managers:

  • have the ability to direct others;

  • authorise processes and standards;

  • ensure the organisation’s goals and objectives are met;

  • have the authority to hire, promote, dismiss, discipline or reward employees for their behaviour and performance.

What is a Leader?

One of the most commonly found differences between a leader and a manager is that a leader does not necessarily have the authority of a management position. To put it simply, a leader can be anyone who possesses leadership qualities, despite which position they hold.

A leader is someone who:

  • has the ability to attract followers because of their personality and behaviour traits;

  • is a role model, sets examples and inspires others;

  • enables others to reach their goals through motivating them and supporting them;

  • has strong communication skills;

  • is considered to be honest and voices their opinion of their vision and direction of how they would like the business to progress.

What do recruitment professionals and executives think?

We often ask delegates at our management courses to identify the differences between managing and leading in recruitment. The below are just a few interesting themes that illustrate the common view in recruitment about the differing roles:

  • Managers direct, leaders guide.

  • Managers tell, leaders sell.

  • We manager processes, we lead people.

  • Managers have ‘position power’; leaders have ‘personality power’.

  • Managers push, leaders pull.

When looking to promote into a role which is defined as ‘leader’ or ‘manager’, the reality is that most recruitment firms look for the qualities of both – which is often a difficult balance to reach. We also find there’s much more positivity around leadership than management – and yet most organisations use the job title of ‘Manager’.

Successfully combining Managing, Leading and Billing is among some of the complex and critical areas that we explore on our training courses. Call us on 01264 360234 or email us at for more information.


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