A Great Manager or a True Leader?

November 3, 2022

A Great Manager or a True Leader?

I am generally hearing from juniors or fresh starters that they want to be a manager as their upcoming professional goal. And, generally management sounds better than leading to most of us. Even titles in professional life are shaped according to this belief, “manager” title is generally top of “leader” title in most company organization charts.


Even, I am working as a “senior manager” in my company and “team leaders” are reporting to the managers who report to me.

So, is it real that managing or becoming a manager is a better ability than leading or becoming a leader? Or does this general belief makes management important than leadership?

In order to go deep in this discussion, differences between a leader and a manager should be defined in a crystal clear way to talk better about this topic. Below is one of my favorite articles written by William Arruda and published in Forbes.

Embedded content: https://www.forbes.com/sites/williamarruda/2016/11/15/9-differences-between-being-a-leader-and-a-manager/?sh=3fc8ad164609

Before going deep in this comparison between a leader and a manager, firstly we should understand the history of leading & managing. Leading is an capability and a fact through all the human-history. On the other hand, managing is a position that we have started to use from the beginning of the industry era as industry (whether it is production industry or service industry) needs more people to work and accomplish tasks and people need to managed while executing these tasks.

There are different types of management subjects like project management, risk management, time management, resource management. But, there is only one leadership, you will be a leader or you will not be. As Arruda stated in his article, one does not automatically become a leader even he/she becomes a manager. Leading is an ability that you can gain but you should always work harder to go further in leading skills as a leader should have a continuous self-improvement skill and should not stay where he/she stands for a time. A leader can improve his/her technical skills according to the industry or can improve his/her communication skills or even can improve how he/she should progress in self-improvement.

Throughout the history, we have the list of great leaders and leaders shape the history. We have that kind of list as great leaders from ancient times, great leaders in history, great leaders in modern era, great women leaders and the list can continue by giving different examples. Just check some of the great leaders in history from the below link. And, one of them (Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of the modern Republic of Turkey) is my primary role model in every point in my life.

Embedded content: https://historyplex.com/great-leaders-in-history

Also, we have great leaders from modern era who shape the future of humankind like Henry Ford, Marie Curie, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Nicola Tesla, George Orwell, Albert Einstein, Pablo Picasso, Eva Peron, Paul McCartney. This list can continue but these are the leaders who shape human history in different subjects. These leaders have lots of followers and they have influence in many areas, not only in a specific area.

So, if we come back to our point that the difference between a leader & a manager, below picture demonstrate the differences from a good perspective. A leader should have different kinds of abilities whereas a manager may only concentrate on a specific subject as described before.


To become a good leader, one should have capabilities listed below. But a good leader also should not only have these capabilities and should also inspire others to have these capabilities.

  • Integrity
  • Effective Communication Skills
  • Empathy
  • Vision
  • Enthusiasm
  • Decision-Maker
  • Capable of Giving & Taking Positive Feedbacks
  • Delegation
  • Confidence
  • Expertise
  • Proactivity
  • Charisma

Leading is totally different than management and you can become a manager and even you can become a good manager but it does not guarantee that you are a true leader. To become a leader, one should work hard to improve these abilities. Leadership does not come totally by birth. There are some that comes by birth but you should improve yourself in a continuous way.

As Steve Jobs mentioned;

“Management is about persuading people to do things they do not want to do, while leadership is about inspiring people to do things they never thought they could.”


To sum up, everyone wants to a be manager in professional life but not all managers can become a true leader in real life. A true leader is not the one who only thinks himself/herself or acts alone. A true leader is the one who thinks with others, respects to other ideas and acts as a member of the team, not as a manager of the team.

And the motto of a true leader should be; “We can do it & let’s do it together !