Do you know the difference between managers and leaders?

Managers focus their attention on overseeing tasks and outcomes, while leaders focus on their team and guide them towards accomplishing broader goals.

Management is about control and administration, while leadership is about influence and inspiration.

Or as Warren Bennis put it, “The manager does things right; the leader does the right thing.”

So, while there will be overlap between leadership and management, how does one shift their focus on becoming more of a leader?

Let’s examine 5 areas where a leader differs from a manager.

1. Vision

One of the best examples I can think of to illustrate this is the parable about three bricklayers.

When asked what he was doing, the first bricklayer barked, “Can’t you see? I’m laying bricks!”

When the second bricklayer was asked, he responded matter-of-factly, “I’m building a brick wall 30 feet tall, 100 feet wide, and 18 inches thick.”

Then a third bricklayer was asked what he was doing. Despite the fact that he appeared to be doing exactly the same thing as the other two men, he looked up with excitement and said, “Oh, let me tell you! I am building the greatest cathedral the world has ever known!”

The first two men were focused on their task, while the third bought into the vision.

It is the leader’s job to cast a vision that inspires others.

The leader needs to effectively communicate their vision to help build a shared understanding and commitment among their team.

Developing a vision requires a combination of self-reflection, long-term planning, and persistent learning.

2. Inspiration

Going back to the three bricklayers, the first two bricklayers were likely more concerned about their paycheck than the result of their work.

Management could control their output by threatening to send them home and costing them their pay if they didn’t do a good job.

When the manager deals with control, the leader inspires.

The third bricklayer felt inspired by the vision set out by the leader.

Some leaders inspire others through charisma, but not all leaders are charismatic.

Often, the learned leader may be more soft-spoken but inspires his followers because of other traits.

A caring, encouraging leader who appreciates others can inspire in ways that could not be achieved through charisma alone.

3. Empowerment

Managers use their position of authority to get things done.

Managers track performance and maintain conformity.

Leaders empower others by delegating authority and encouraging autonomy.

The first two bricklayers did not sound empowered, but the third bricklayer was.

Are we noticing a trend?

4. Long term

The first bricklayer just saw bricks.

The second bricklayer saw a wall.

They were looking at the short-term task they were working on.

But the third bricklayer was looking at a much bigger picture.

The leader inspired the third bricklayer to look long term.

A cathedral could take months or years to complete.

But the leader got the third bricklayer to focus on the long-term.

5. Relationship

Managers can be taskmasters.

And while the leader knows that tasks are important, he also knows he needs to focus on relationships.

People will buy into the leader before they buy into his vision.

The third bricklayer was no different.

The third bricklayer had to know, like, and trust the leader before they could buy into the leader’s vision.

Why would they know, like, and trust the leader?


Relationship is a huge topic that couldn’t be easily summarized in one post, so keep an eye out for further posts involving this subject.

In summary, of the three bricklayers, the first two bricklayers seemed to be victims of management. The third bricklayer saw the leader’s vision, felt inspired, was empowered, focused on the long-term goals, and trusted the leader.

Let’s strive to be more like the leader.

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