I have spoken with many people who are either under the belief that managers are leaders (or vice versa) or are unsure of the differences. While one individual can be both, there are distinct differences because an individual can also be one or the other.
A manager is someone who manages a project, task, team of people, or a single individual. A manager will organize, plan, direct, and execute. He focuses on the goal, corporate or otherwise, and create a way for him and/or his team to execute a plan to obtain the desired result. A manager is effective and efficient in what he does, he disseminates work and tasks, and he is usually concerned with ensuring that the higher powers are happy with the end results. He is usually strong in his ability to execute on a plan quickly and efficiently, plan appropriately for unforeseen circumstances, and is able to create processes that are relevant for the project or task.
A leader is someone who has a goal of bettering himself, those around him, and the organization he represents. He focuses on creating a vision that everyone can see, that is realistic, and that helps those around him grow. He motivates, influences, and inspires others to not only do the right things, but to become better at what they do. He mentors those around him to become the best they can be, to grow their strengths and even weaknesses, and to grow past what he could have ever done. A leader is noticed more often in times of stress. This is because he motivates those around him to do what needs to be done, to light a fire under them, and allow those around him to take credit where credit is due. He teaches, he creates desire, and he creates belief. He is usually strong in his ability to communicate easily and effectively, has a high sense of integrity and honesty in all his dealings, and has the ability to challenge both himself and those around him.
My Mentor – Both a Leader and a Manager
As I said before, an individual can be both a manager and a leader. I have even met a few individuals with characteristics from both. My mentor and dear friend is both a manager and a leader. He takes the position of a manager very seriously as he demands respect, and power comes naturally to him. But he also inspires and motivates those around him to become better than they are currently, to push their own boundaries past their comfort zone and into an all new area. I have learned so much from him, including how to better myself in every aspect of my life. I have kept that fire lit for myself as I have grown both professionally and personally and I have seen my own growth and desire for bettering myself grow tremendously because of the inspiration he has given me. Through these changes, I like to think that I have also become a leader who manages well.