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Leadership vs. Management: Discussing Key Attributes

The roles of a leader and a manager are central to most organizations, with both a manager and a leader performing critical functions that will allow for the future effectiveness and often the very existence of an organization. Therefore, assessing and comparing the roles that a leader and a manager have in a company is an important and healthy exercise in addressing some of the needs that most companies have in the modern market (Shepherd & Maisano, 2016). Although there are multiple intersections between a manager and a leader, the attributes of a leader include the ability to inspire and motivate to change, namely, to acquire new skills, whereas a manager is supposed to ensure compliance with set standards.

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Among the attributes of a leader, one should mention the ability to introduce confidence into the management of a problem and the skill of inspiring others. The specified abilities typically make the core of what is expected of a good leader since the specified competencies are believed to help to transform the perceptions of team members (Ellis, 2018). Granted that the specified characteristics usually align with the image of a transformational leader specifically, there are reasons to view the specified characteristics is crucial since they help to establish the culture of change within a team (Dawson, 2008). As a result, team members will develop the skills that will allow them to control their own performance without the rigid supervision of a leader.

Promoting a confident attitude toward problem management is another characteristic that a leader needs to possess in order to shape the behaviors of team members and encourage them to handle workplace problems and tasks easily. Finally, the third characteristic that defines a leader is the commitment and passion that they have for their work (Griffiths, Roberts, & Price, 2019). While a manager does not necessarily have to be enthusiastic about workplace tasks, a leader needs to ignite passion in team members by representing an example of a passionate workplace team member.

Unlike leaders, who tend to be focused on people, managers’ tasks traditionally revolve around goals and the associated processes. Although managers also have to take the needs of team members into account, changing their perspective on their workplace responsibilities is typically out of the range of a manager’s competencies. Instead, a manager needs to develop the skills of communication, time management, and delegation.

The skill of communicating project goals effectively leads to the improvement of the end results, which is one of the key concerns for a manager to pursue (Haslem, 2017). In addition, utilizing time sparingly and ensuring that key schedules for implementing project milestones are set appropriately is another issue of which a manager has to keep track in the organizational environment. Finally, the ability to delegate tasks to subordinates and arrange their performance in a way that maximizes benefits and improves the company output should be viewed as a crucial competency of a manager.

The attributes discussed above show quite clearly where the line between a manager and a leader lies. While there are some aspects of their job where their roles and responsibilities intersect, the absence of the need to motivate employees sets the position of a manager apart from the one of a leader. In turn, a leader is not expected to prioritize corporate processes over people but, instead, is expected to focus on the key stakeholders of a specific project. Thus, despite having certain common characteristics, a manager and a leader have very different roles in the organizational context, as the evaluation of their attributes shows.


Dawson, S. (2008). Nurse leadership: Making the most of community service. The Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing, 39(6), 268-273. Web.

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Ellis, P. (2018). Learning to be an assertive leader. Professional Development, 14(4), 76-77.

Griffiths, O., Roberts, L., & Price, J. (2019). Desirable leadership attributes are preferentially associated with women: A quantitative study of gender and leadership roles in the Australian workforce. Australian Journal of Management, 44(1), 32-49. Web.

Haslem, J. A. (2017). Mutual fund portfolio manager structures: Attributes, implications, and performance. The Journal of Wealth Management, 19(4), 115-127. Web.

Shepherd, R., & Maisano, P. (2016). Influential nurse leader – Dr. Maria Shirey. The Oklahoma Nurse, 61(2), 14.

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