Leaders vs Managers – The Big Debate

Since Batman vs Superman is such a hot topic, what about the concept of Leaders vs Managers. Similar to Batman and Superman, aren’t Managers and Leaders one in the same? Don’t they really want the same things? Perhaps not!

There are many very good leaders who lack well-developed management skills and there are many managers who lack good leadership skills. The most effective people managers are those with well-developed management and leadership skills.


Reduces uncertainty

Stabilises organisations

Key Characteristics:

Planning and Budgeting

Organising and Staffing

Controlling & problem-Solving


Creates uncertainty

Creates Change

Key Characteristics:        

Setting a direction for the organisation

Using communication to align people with that direction

Motivating people to action through empowerment and basic need gratification.

Is it time you took a look at how you operate, and look at your leadership team, is it filled with leaders, or managers? In case you need a little bit more help, try this out for size.

Bennis (1989) outlined a number of key differences between leadership and management:

Managers Leaders
Administer Innovate
Maintain Develop
Control Inspire
Imitate Originate
Have a short term view Have a long term view
Ask how and when Ask what & why
Accept Status Quo Challenge Status Quo


The truth is, it’s not always as clear cut as that. When it comes to leaders vs managers, you want the perfect combination of both. The consensus is, the most successful people are good managers with well developed leadership skills, who are constantly improving those skills. Many successful managers will say they learnt their leadership skills in the university of life. There may be some truth to this, but real learning comes from the way we learn from our experiences, and combining that with other learning and training opportunities throughout our career. We can never know too much!