The 7 Habits of Highly effective Leaders vs Managers


leaders versus managersThere are managers and there are managers and then there are leaders. Leaders, leadership and managers: what is the difference? They all lead or manage? The first question you might have is whether there is a difference, which is, of course, an assumption.

And the second one: is the difference more than only a play with words? Semantics aside, there are huge and basic differences between leaders and managers. Read on and you will learn how to distinguish between a manager and the habits of highly effective leaders.

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Leaders and leadership

There is no doubt that without good leadership the world would be a differentreal leadership is special place. Leaders take the lead, often see opportunities where others do not see them. They are thinking outside the box (also a fashion cry but they are creative).

A born leader knows how to manage things that are not there yet. He/she is visionary, thinking ahead, anticipating the future. Moreover, a leader knows how to involve people in the process. He/she allows them to participate, gives them a role, trust and is clear in what is expected of them. Leaders generally enforce respect and radiate a certain persuasion.

Managers and management

Without managers, it would not look good in the world either. Because we can not do without them, although we might not need so many. Managers know how to manage and control an organization. They work systematically, can analyze well, set up guidelines. Managers get their authority more from the hierarchy.

So then what is the big difference?

The big difference lies in the following habits:


  1. A leader directs a situation that is not yet there but that is imminent
  2. Leaders create and make something out of nothing
  3. Leaders often have a direct style of management
  4. Leaders are visionary
  5. Leaders follow their hearts
  6. Leaders achieve performance through connection, seeking synergy and focusing on the development of employees 
  7. Leaders do the right thing


  1. A manager controls the existing situation that is actually already present
  2. Managers are building on something
  3. Managers are more indirect in their management style
  4. Managers are more strategic (based on ratio)
  5. Managers follow their minds more
  6. Managers achieve results by focusing on objectives, agreements and procedures, they do things right

Can you learn to be a leader?

Nice question: can you learn leadership? I do not think so. Leadership can be developed if it is already in you. But the captain of the football team will not be made at school. Captains are born, not made. That is why we create all kinds of confusion at this time. Of course, leadership must be developed or authentic leadership must be developed.

Lack of leadership

no leadership?To be quite honest, a lack of leadership is mostly disastrous for organizations. For the clarity: lack of enough good managers as well. But organizations where there is too little leadership often end up doing it the easy way. They do not sufficiently match market developments, customer needs. They look too little forward, anticipate too little in the future. With all its consequences. We have seen many examples of this in recent years.

Need for leadership

So, there is a need for leadership. An inspired leader is guided by the heart that is right. This is quite different from procedural regulations, the internal regulations, a ‘tight’ time registration, a balanced and balanced assessment form, an advanced functioning system and a time clock. That may all be there, but that’s not what it’s about. What does inspirational leadership deliver? Commitment, trust, going for it, inspiration. Costs? Only do what you are good at, stay with yourself, start from your own qualities. It is that simple.

What do we really want?

You might not directly realize it, but what you really need is leadership. There will always be an urgent need for leaders and executives who:

  • focus on the development of the employee 
  • have a genuine interest in the employee and do not show any skills that they have learned during the training 
  • have confidence in the employee and in the team and to show that
    lay down responsibilities with the employees and the team 
  • promote ownership, independence and self-management 
  • are guided by passion and inspiration and not from ratios and KPI’s

My goodness, would this not be nice? Away with those useless performance evaluations, but getting real interest during the whole year.

Get rid of the managers?

This of course leaves the managers. Research has concluded that  we are fed up with bosses who:

  • manage on the basis of power, so the rest of you are puppetsbye-bye managers?
  • oftentimes micromanage
  • learned a trick on management training and have to implement it in practice
  • deprive the employee of their own contribution and responsibility
  • give too much direction, control and management
  • continuously tell us how to by forcing us and prescribing
  • are bureaucratic: e.g. unnecessary investigations where everything is recorded
  • show a top-down behavior
  • use fear-mongering tactics and many seem to be ok with it
  • are spreadsheet managers running around all day with graphs, ratios and KPIs throughout the department

Different times

To all you managers who exhibit this kind of behavior, beware because other times are coming! So please work on your managing characteristics and go with the time, otherwise, time will catch you. However, if you are the kind of supervisor with the 6 assets as mentioned above, congratulations, you will be ok.

Hypes about leadership

Nowadays you hear of new forms of leadership that seem to be necessary. Yet many organizations struggle with this issue, because what exactly is it about. These include hyping names such as:

hypes of leadershipmodern leadership
serving leadership
natural leadership
authentic leadership

In vogue?

But are these all different styles in vogue now? Not at the core. The principle is: away with so many of your bosses and the bossiness. Involve the employees, give them responsibility, give them the opportunity to develop in a safe environment that is not based on fear and control but on trust. 

I know from my own experience that this dream of many of you can come true, although chances are small. For me, I have been in this ideal situation in six of my 37 years of being employed. So, it is possible and maybe you just have to look for it. But after reading this you will know what to look for!

The best alternative

Still, there might be a lot of you, who already had dreadful experiences with bad bosses for a long time, too long a time. And you are thinking of a way out of this, but do not yet know-how. There is a simple solution: become your own boss. Now I hear you saying that doing so is easier said than done. You are correct, but nowadays there are ways to do so, which are pretty much accessible for everyone.

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4 thoughts on “The 7 Habits of Highly effective Leaders vs Managers”

  1. Great article.

    I think you have made a lot of good points as regards the difference between managers and leaders, and as to who are needed more. And I do agree with everything you have written here.

    I always thought that managers and leaders are one and the same; that all mangers are leaders. However, I came to realize I was wrong because our manager (in my new job) does not have the qualities of a leader.

    You’re right in saying that managers get their authority from hierarchy. Our manager got her position only because she was next in rank to the previous manager who left the company. Yes, she is a good manager but she’s not a “leader.” She does not have the habits of a highly effective leader. I believe she can be a leader if she wants to but she’s too soft and indecisive.

    Yes, the world needs leaders more than managers.

    • Yes, there are big differences between leaders and managers and I am glad you have learned this from my article. Over the 37 years in my professional life I had encountered about 30 bosses and I think there were only three leaders among them. If the managers did have the qualities as described in my article above, my career would have been much better. Moreover, if the top echelon would recognise these qualities, they would appoint better suited managers. How many time have I seen that a top salesman becomes the manager, just because he is that. Why is it that sales suddenly are down? You lose your top salesman and install a mediocre manager. It happens all the time.

      You mentioned that someone got a manager’s position just because of rank. Again, this does not make her a good manager per se. You have now seen that it takes more to function well in a manager’s position let alone as a leader.

  2. When I was stationed in Japan I saw a quote at the armory that has stuck with me 12 years later, “The incompetent leading the unwilling to do the unnecessary.” I feel like that can be applied to so many managers. The sad truth is that people can have a title, but they do not know how to take on that title and lead. I love when you talk about if leadership can be taught. I would agree that being a leader is something we are born with or without. Some of us are natural leaders and some of us aren’t and that is okay.

    • It would be okay if not so many pseudo leaders and managers would realise they are not and act accordingly. The problem comes when they think they are leaders/managers, but in reality they are not and still keep their position for a long time. They would indeed manage only by title and will manage by fear. I have spoken to many colleagues at the time and many seem to be ok with it. I think it is much better to manage by respect.


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