Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

Are You a Leader or a Manager? 

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Are you a leader or a manager? Is there a difference between the two? Some people are leaders, but have the title of manager. Many, if not most people, use the words leader and manager interchangeably, but there is a vast difference between the two. So, what are some of those differences? Here are four differences between managers and leaders that I would like to share with you:

  • Managers – whether they be in business, the church or a non-profit organization – maintain the status quo. Just as leaders are needed to move organizations forward, managers are needed for those areas of an organization that are not considered strategic, but still need to be maintained. In some of my assignments in an IT department in a large Fortune 50 organization, I worked with roles that were not considered strategic, but were certainly needed to “keep the wheels on”. Also, some of the responsibilities that I had (making sure everyone on my team accurately recorded their time each week, for example) certainly fell into the managing, rather than leading category. It is the same with a church. In some churches, “managers” (pastors, church leaders, etc.), just maintain what is in place, not working to move their churches forward to impact their communities in a greater way for the Gospel.
  • Leaders cast a compelling vision of a better future. While managers maintain systems and programs that are in place in their organizations, leaders look to a better future, moving their organizations forward. Leaders have vision and they cast compelling visions of a better future for their organizations. This means change, but it is change for the better, not change for the sake of change. Change for the better improves organizations. Change for the sake of change disrupts organizations.
  • Leaders influence followers to buy into their vision of the future. John Maxwell often says that “Leadership is influence, nothing more and nothing less”. In other words, if you are not able to influence people to follow your you and your vision, you are not leading. Maxwell has said that people buy into the leader before they buy into the vision. As a result, leaders need to be people of character and competence.
  • Leaders inspire trust. Stephen M.R. Covey has said “The first job of any leader is to inspire trust. Trust is confidence born of two dimensions: character and competence. Character includes your integrity, motive, and intent with people. Competence includes your capabilities, skills, results, and track record. Both dimensions are vital.” It is not that people don’t need managers, but here I want to focus on the word “inspire”. Leaders inspire.

Your particular situation may find you doing more managing than leading. However, I contend that no matter what type of leadership or management position you are in, you can have the vision to improve your organization. And if your vision is compelling enough and you communicate it clearly, people will follow you, and you will be a leader.

There are many other differences between leaders and managers. What thoughts do you have about the difference between the two?

Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence – married to my best friend Tammy, a graduate of Covenant Seminary, St. Louis Cardinals fan, formerly a manager at a Fortune 50 organization, and in leadership at my local church. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people develop, and to use their strengths to their fullest potential. I am an INTJ on Myers-Briggs, 3 on the Enneagram, my top five Strengthsfinder themes are: Belief, Responsibility, Learner, Harmony, and Achiever, and my two StandOut strength roles are Creator and Equalizer. My favorite book is the Bible, with Romans my favorite book of the Bible, and Colossians 3:23 and 2 Corinthians 5:21 being my favorite verses. Some of my other favorite books are The Holiness of God and Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul, and Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. I enjoy music in a variety of genres, including modern hymns, Christian hip-hop and classic rock. My book Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace and Tammy’s book Study, Savor and Share Scripture: Becoming What We Behold are available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon.

One thought on “Are You a Leader or a Manager? 

  1. Well said, Bill. That clarification is much needed.

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