The Dynamic Duo: Embracing the Synergy of Managers and Leaders in Business

Jessamy Amic

Posted: July 24, 2023

Table of Contents

In the dynamic landscape of modern organisations, the age-old debate between managers and leaders has often taken centre stage. While some argue for the supremacy of strong leadership, others advocate for the indispensability of effective management. However, the truth lies not in pitting one against the other but in recognising the unique roles and complementary strengths that managers and leaders bring to the table.

So what’s the difference between a manager and a leader, and why is it important to distinguish between these two roles? Simply put, managers are the people who create goals and know the processes, numbers and strategies needed to achieve them, while leaders create a vision and engage, empower, and motivate people. For a business to succeed, you need both.

We explore the distinctive traits, responsibilities, and skill sets of each and uncover the immense value derived from harnessing their collective power.


Leaders are people with a vision and a passion to pursue it. Their innate (or learnt) leadership skills enable them to inspire and align people, keeping employees engaged and loyal to the company.

What leaders do:

Leaders are agile

Leaders embrace change and can adapt in complex, quickly evolving environments. This ability allows them to identify a variety of options, engage stakeholders more collaboratively, and make more informed decisions.

Leaders are authentic

Leaders are not afraid to be themselves and are willing to stand out. They are thoroughly self-aware and transparent and actively build on their unique and differentiated personal brand.

Leaders experiment and take risks

Leaders are able to capitalise on the opportunities brought by constant change, even if it’s unclear if their approach will work. Never reckless, they feel comfortable changing their mind and are aware that they may fail or that their changes could create waves.

Leaders see the bigger picture

Leaders have intentionality and stay motivated toward a big, sometimes distant goal. They are ambitious and undertake the bold moves that grow businesses, remaining motivated even without regular rewards.

Leaders grow and learn

Leaders have a growth mindset (as opposed to a fixed one) and understand that ongoing learning and improvement are critical to achieving success. They are naturally curious and seek out people and information that will expand their thinking.

Leaders build relationships

Leaders focus on the people they work with and positively influence them to achieve common goals and build a shared vision. They know who their stakeholders are and build loyalty and trust through support, rewards, and open communication. They avoid falling into the hierarchical power trap that incapacitates teams.

Leaders coach and facilitate

Leaders see beyond their official job title to have a genuine and vested interest in the success of their employees and co-workers. They encourage and empower them to accomplish their goals, focus on their strengths, and avoid telling them what to do and how to do it.

Leaders create fans and followers

Leaders today are less about leading from a base of power and more about leading from a base of influence. They inspire their colleagues and teams, who in turn help them build their brand, achieve their goals and increase their visibility and credibility.


Managers are focused on tasks and moving a business forward through processes and efficiency. They set, achieve and measure goals, controlling situations to ensure they reach or exceed their objectives.

What managers do:

Managers are monitors

Managers monitor people and processes and supervise daily activities, keeping the business productive, efficient and organised at all times. They collaborate closely with staff members to monitor the projects they’re involved with and identify potential hurdles.

Managers build teams

Managers know what skills are needed to produce the most effective outcomes. They hire, assign and train individuals and build teams based on the requirements of the business, project or task.

Managers control risk

Managers work to minimise risk and control or avoid problems. They identify, assess, and manage risks to a business, department or project and enable data-driven decisions to enhance their risk management decisions.

Managers think short-term

Managers bridge the gap between where you are right now and where you want to be in, say, three months to a year’s time. By ensuring the completion of short-term goals, they contribute to the ultimate success of a business’s long-term goals.

Managers plan

Managers map out workflows and pathways to achieve company goals. The steps taken will consider human and financial resources, and other variables, needed to complete anything from a task or project to a company’s overall business objectives.

Managers build systems

Managers ensure a business has the relevant structures in place that are needed to set and achieve goals. They develop, coordinate, and enforce systems, policies, procedures, and productivity standards.

Managers create reports

Managers prepare reports to track strategic goal accomplishment. They communicate these to other managers and senior leadership within the company, who use the data to facilitate decision-making processes.

Managers are go-betweens

Managers play a key role in translating leaders’ goals and visions to ensure they become a reality. They consider both employees and leaders’ perspectives to ensure the best course of action is taken and the best decisions are made.

Managers manage employees

Managers supervise staff who are reviewed on a regular basis to ensure targets, goals, KPIS, etc, are met. They set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound objectives that are aligned with the team’s and company’s goals. They train and develop staff, resolve conflict, and manage obstacles toward progress.

Lead and manage for the 21st century

At MasterStart, we believe businesses need both managers and leaders to reach their full potential. Running a company made only of leaders would be like herding cats while having managers run the show means that you’ll get a lot done, but you’ll never get better.

Create effective leadership across departments with our Leading with Impact course that teaches the essential skills needed to successfully lead oneself, others and a business.

Or, opt for the Strategic Leadership course that will enhance your ability to elevate organisational focus from today’s issues to tomorrow’s opportunities and potential risks, cutting across organisational silos.

Upskill your workforce with our Business Management online short course that provides learners with the academic foundation and real-world skills to organise, run, and effectively manage businesses in the 21st century.

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