Aren’t all managers leaders? And don’t all leaders manage? The terms leader and manager had been used as polar opposites for so many years most people believe they are different roles.

But in fact all managers must lead, and all leaders must manage. This is a distinction between the two that goes far beyond semantics.

Ask any employee out there who they will follow more, someone who tells them what to do or someone who inspires them to do it. It’s clear that most people work better when they are motivated rather than when they are directed.

This is where the nuances of management and leadership begin to be realized. Most people feel that managers are more about process than they are about people. And while we are not saying that process management is a bad thing, we are saying that all managers must also have leadership qualities to be effective. But not all managers have natural leadership qualities. By paying attention to this need for leadership skills, there is a way to get better results through positive leadership that will motivate better performance.

Here are 5 characteristics that separate leaders from managers:

1. Leaders have a clear vision 

One might reason that managers also have expectations for the future. Many managers typically have a clear business goal and not a vision. You can be grounded and see things for what they are,  while still being a leader and look at the bigger picture and beyond.

2.  Leaders inspire others to lead 

Leaders motivate people around them to recognize their own strengths as leaders. They might give employees a voice or the opportunity to lead a team huddle or facilitate a meeting. Don’t simply focus in on the proper order of things and the clear definition of the roles each person plays.

3. Leaders take risks 

Leaders are more open to experimentation and discovering innovative solutions to everyday problems. Those who manage only are more about process, they will rely on the numbers or data that calculate the best course of action. They rarely use their gut or intuition but prefer to use proven methods to resolve issues. They avoid anything that may disrupt the flow of the organization.

4. Leaders promote collaboration  

Because leaders aim to inspire, they promote a culture that is collaborative. They lead the way in showing the rest of the team that they depend on each other to function effectively and efficiently. One who only manages, on the other hand, focuses on maintaining control. Managers will create a team based on existing skills and experience. A leader will build and mold a team based on potential.

5. Leaders are willing to get their hands dirty 

While managers are delegating tasks and overseeing the flow of production, leaders are ready to jump in and work alongside their employees. They want to understand how each cog in the machine works.

We must lose this false dichotomy between managers and leaders. In every scenario above, the manager skills are as important as the leadership skills. To focus on one set of skills to the exclusion of the other is counter-productive in the extreme. Certainly, the CEO of a company may need to have and use leadership skills more that an Accounts Payable Manager. But both must manage and both must lead in appropriate amounts for their role and for their team’s requirements.

To improve productivity, employees need to be inspired and empowered. They want to feel valued for their work and feel invested in the organization’s future. While “managers” direct people through the process, “leaders” take employees along for the journey. Let’s do both each day.

Are you ready to become a better leader? How many of these unique characteristics do you feel you need to work on? 

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