What’s the difference between managers and leaders? The terms “leader” and “manager” are often used synonymously, yet they represent entirely different aspects of business. Those managers who aspire to take their careers to the next level and become a leader need to know the difference.
Peter Drucker was the first nationally known management expert to recognize this truth. In his book, “Landmarks of Tomorrow” Drucker identified the appearance of what he called the “knowledge worker” where he notes the major differences that this would create in the way businesses would be organized. His insight helps to shed some light on the difference between managers and leaders in today’s business world.
Drucker says that with the appearance of the knowledge worker, “one does not ‘manage’ people,” but that “The task is to lead people. And the goal is to make productive the specific strengths and knowledge of every individual.” In today’s businesses “knowledge workers” would include anyone in the information technology field. So then, buyer/planners, acquisitions, data analytics, data organization, data storage, and programmers, as well as those who work in distribution and marketing fit in that category. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Professionals using any type of information technology can also be placed in the realm “knowledge workers” as well. This would also include those in the legal profession, teachers, and all types of scientists just to name a few.
As you can see Drucker was correct, there has been a mega-shift toward the use of data and those who deal in information technology. With the ever-increasing importance of these roles, knowing the difference between managers and leaders is essential in making the jump from management to leadership.
One great comparison showing the difference between managers and leaders can be found at the Resourceful Manager, a website dedicated to providing information, training, and tools to solve management and business issues. See their infographic below that highlights the difference between managers and leaders.