Do you think that leaders and managers are roles that are interchangeable? After all kinds of roles involve people management and need you to possess certain qualities. However, if you look closely at the two roles and hence the individuals who perform those roles, you will realize that there are marked differences in the way a leader motivates his or her staff and the manner in which a manager encourages his or her team to perform better. A leadership development program will cover the differences that exist.


Let us take a quick look at what these might be.

  1. Leaders use their creativity and managers use process – When it comes to motivating your team or different individuals, one size does not fit all. However, organizations do have standardized recognition programs and initiatives that can be effective tools for motivation. Leaders will tend to use their creative thinking on how to discover new ways of motivating their staff. Managers, however, will rely on the process and how to use policies that exist, for the same. They might prefer a more structured approach for engaging employees, while leaders will use a more spontaneous one.
  2. Leaders have a long term view and managers tend to think on an immediate basis – When it comes to motivating an employee or a team, managers will tend to think on an immediate level and try to use what will resolve a disengagement issue right away. Leaders will tend to take a long term view of what needs to be done to engage or motivate the staff, and act in a more measured manner, even if it takes time.
  3. Leaders tend to empathize, managers tend to sympathize – A leader will try to figure out what it means to be in the other person’s role or place, and then take a call on what will motivate them. A manager, on the other hand, will focus on the feeling of sympathy for an employee who he or she believes is demotivated and use what they think might work for the person. Motivation can arise from various elements and organizations at times tend to work on it, in a broad-based manner. However, knowing the respective elements that work for different individuals can save time and effort. That is typically the approach a leader will take.


These are some basic but very significant differences in the way leaders and managers motivate staff. Their aim is the same – retaining the engaged employees by ensuring that they are motivated. But the approaches they use are very distinct from each other.


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