OPEC College

Leadership & Management: What’s The Difference?

Is a good manager automatically a good leader, and vice versa? While there are times when they overlap, there can be big differences between being a leader and being a manager.  

The main difference (in the most simple form) is that leaders have people who follow them, while managers have people who work for them.  

Business owners, for example, will find that they need to have qualities of both a leader and a manager to run a successful business. This will allow them to create the vision for their business like a leader and also execute business strategies like a manager.  

While some people may embody both a leader and manager, it’s important to know the key differences between the two titles: 

Key differences  

  • Leaders establish the vision, managers follow it 

Leaders help to create the vision within an organisation and inspire the people around them to turn that vision into reality. They can look at the larger picture and how culture and people can lead to great business success. Managers, on the other hand, generally help teams follow that vision and use it to reach measurable goals. They focus on setting, measuring and accomplishing the goals in place.   

  • Leaders focus on ideas, managers focus on execution 

Creating new ideas and strategies can help to give an organisation more direction, but there needs to be someone who can execute these ideas. This is where leaders and managers differ. Leaders are generally more creative and take risks with their ideas, while managers will look at the practicality and processes of achieving those ideas. This is not to say that leaders can’t think strategically or that managers can’t be creative thinkers, but the expectations around the two roles differ. 

  • Leaders inspire the team, managers direct them to success 

Managers can be inspirational, and leaders can drive business success, but they generally have different functions and responsibilities within the team. Managers are responsible for driving their success and reaching effective workplace outcomes. They will be held accountable for employees’ engagement and performance in the workplace, focusing on productivity and team success.  

Leaders on the other hand can inspire the team at a broader level, helping them to believe in and support important organisational initiatives. When you develop your personal leadership style, you should focus on authentic communication, building relationships, and supportive techniques. That way, leaders can empower their team, getting their attention and inspiring them to believe in themselves and the organisation. 

  • Leaders build the culture, managers support it 

The culture within an organisation is incredibly important for developing a strong team and a strong business. The environment in which people work and how they interact with each other directly correlates with productivity, engagement and collaboration.  

The culture is a system of beliefs, values, and behaviors that shape how an organisation operates and how people within the organisation interact. Leaders help to shape the culture, values, and beliefs of the organisation, while it is the managers responsibility to endorse the culture and lead by example.  

These are the main differences between leadership and management, but it’s important to understand that there are many similarities and overlap between the two.  

One of the most significant overlaps is the importance and focus on effective communication. Let’s take a closer look at recent trends in communication and why they are so important for emerging leaders and managers.  

Effective leadership & management communication 

  1. Building stronger relationships – rather than remaining separate from their teams, it’s been shown that when leaders and managers develop more open and impactful relationships with their employees it supports better workplace culture. 
  1. Communicating more often – as the way we work is changing in a post-pandemic world, the importance of frequent and regular communication across the whole organisation has come into focus. 
  1. Building trust and encouraging transparency – it’s been shown that employees work more effectively in workplaces that encourage honest, open and transparent communication.  
  1. Choosing the right communication channels and tools – now that remote working and WFH is becoming increasingly popular, choosing the right channels for communication is important for maintaining connection and engagement between leaders and managers and their employees.  

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in leadership or management, you’ll greatly benefit from taking an online certification in Leadership and Management. Pursuing training will allow you to develop and solidify your skills, gain industry insights, and learn techniques to implement your knowledge and skills in the workplace.  

At OPEC College, you can gain a qualification in leadership and management through Recognition of Prior Learning or through study. Our team is here to support your study and to help you achieve the greatest possible outcomes for your and your career. Talk to us today by calling 1300 99 6732 or reaching out here.  


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