What is the difference between a leader and a manager? The two words are often used interchangeably, but there are several clear differences between them. Here’s our two-cents.

Being a Leader

Leaders chart a path and help answer the question: “what’s next?” They are focused on growth, innovation, and defining where the company needs to shift or stretch. You do not need to have a “title” to be a leader—it is a way of thinking and approaching problems.

Being a Manager

Managers are directly in charge of day to day operations, and guide their team and the use of resources to execute a vision. They are often less focused on strategy and more concerned with tactics and practice - getting what needs to be done, done. Good managers keep the company’s head above water and make sure everything runs smoothly. Their top priorities are maintenance and upkeep, and not necessarily defining the next stage of growth. They achieve success through operational excellence—which is no easy feat!

Use OKRs To Lead, Not Manage

OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) help leaders implement meaningful and valuable change. They are not used for the “business as usual,” but for looking to the future and asking the questions “where do we want to go?” and “how will we know when we get there?” A good leader understands OKRs should not look too much like a job description, but should instead capture the change they want to see. Additionally, many leaders have a clear idea of what they want to do in their heads, but struggle to communicate it. OKRs give leaders the tools they need to articulate their vision in a clear, concise, and practical manner. Good OKRs help everyone make better decisions by focusing teams on the top priorities.

Good Leaders & Good Managers: A Symbiotic Relationship

There are times when you may be asked to be both a leader and a manager, and it can be difficult to know which hat to wear and when. Successful teams often have both types of executives; the skills of management and leadership working in conjunction to strive for the audacious. Consider Apple’s Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. You could say one was more often recognized as an engineer responsible for the day to day work and the other was more often seen as the visionary who said a finger could be a stylus. Apple would not be the company it is today without both of their contributions. Like peanut butter and jelly, leaders and managers work fine on their own, but they complement each other perfectly when paired together.

Where can I get more information?

To learn more about OKRs, be sure to check out the helpful FAQs, Resources, and Stories here on WhatMatters.com.

Or, if you’re looking for an OKR coach, check this out.

If you’re interested in starting our OKRs 101 course, click here.