Anyone can be a manager, only a few can be leaders


By Stephane Leblanc, Founder and CEO, International Centre for Conscious Leadership

A lot of people use the terms manage and leader as if they are the same but in fact they are quite different.

Managers are a dime a dozen and true leaders are very rare.


Managers manage the day to day operation of a team or an organization. They are goal oriented as they focus on setting, measuring and achieving goals.  

They usually stick with what works and focus on incremental changes in systems , structures and processes to improve productivity, quality and service. 

Managers copy the competencies of people they admire and they often always seek follow cookie-cutter recipes.

Manager are often risk averse and they work to minimize risks. They seek to avoid problems.

Managers are focused on the short term goals, seeking regular feedback and recognition.

Managers rely on proven skills and keep reusing what them successful, perfecting existing skills and adopting proven behaviours.

Managers build systems and processes. They focus on the structure needed to achieve the goals. They focus on the rational and ensures systems are in place to achieve the desired outcomes. They work with their team members to ensure they achieve their goals and objectives.

Managers are more directive. They assign tasks and provide guidance on how to accomplish them.


Leaders create a vision and they paint a picture of what is possible and they inspire and enrol people in turning that vision into reality. They help people see the bigger picture and how they are part of something special.

Leaders create transformations and invite people to adopt new beliefs, values and assumptions in line with the vision which results in fundamental changes in behaviours. They also honour the past and invite people to create a new future discontinued from the past.

Leaders have the courage to be themselves. They are authentic, transparent and self-aware. They are comfortable with who they really are and are willing to stand out.

Leaders love to take risks. They are willing to try new things even if they fail miserably as they know that true innovation cannot happen without mistakes and failures. They create an emotional safe work culture where people feel inspired to create and innovate.

Leaders lead with the long term in mind. They have clear intentions and can stay motivated with big, distant goals.

Leaders build relationships. They focus on people and seek to meet the needs of all stakeholders. They build loyalty and trust by constantly delivering on their promises.

Leaders are mentors and coaches.  They know that their people have the answers and they seek to help all team members to rise to their full potential. They resist the temptation to tell people what to do.  

Are you a manager or a leader?

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