4 Key Distinctions between a Manager and a Leader – The Hire .com


4 Key Distinctions between a Manager and a Leader

In our last article, we shared some horror stories about managers who were really Energy Vampires. Today we share how a great leader shows up in an organization, and what your managers can learn from them. Because while all people managers oversee a team, that does not make them a leader.  So, what are effective leaders doing that managers are not?


Teamwork begins by building trust. And the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability. – Patrick Lencioni

Strong leaders’ partner with others and ensure credit is shared. But managers generally work in silos and are overly focused on their own/team goals. If this continues, over time, processes will break down. Your best people will leave in frustration. However, if it is repaired, leaders will be able to minimize barriers. They will enable their team members to get things done.

To promote partnership, make collaboration a priority. You can do this by,

-Rewarding and recognizing shared results

-Not encouraging or expecting heroic efforts

-Remembering that partnerships require a shared burden. Ensure hero employees are not bearing more in silence to make it "seem collaborative"

This can be challenging, especially in the traditional functionally structured environment. You will need to make difficult decisions around managers and team members who prefer a narrow job scope. But in the end, you will have a more agile, efficient, and innovative team.


Coaching is a skill needed for an effective leader. It will make your job much easier because even the most knowledgeable leader cannot be an expert in everything. But they must be an expert in understanding and motivating each team member.

Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them. -Timothy Gallwey

To coach is not to do. It is to create a dialogue that leads to mindfulness and action. A lack of confidence may be all that stands between an individual and an exceptional performance. A leader can determine the blocks and coach around them* (skills, confidence, or external factors). We will discuss the art of coaching more in our upcoming articles.


While mentoring, and coaching are not the same, for the purposes of a people leader in an organization the lines will blur. A mentor is an experienced and trusted advisor in a specific area. So, some of the coachings you do with your direct reports will be more mentoring. That is why it is so valuable to mentor outside of those reporting relationships. To create an exchange of ideas that might otherwise be out of reach.

A mentor-leader will inspire their mentees. They help them feel connected and provide growth opportunities. Thinking you haven’t had a mentor? Consider these relationships are often not formally defined. Think about what relationships have inspired and taught you. Literary legends Truman Capote and Harper Lee were colleagues and best friends. They are often cited for their mentoring of one another.  For more examples of famous mentor-mentee relationships check out this article from the Chronicles of Evidence-Based Mentoring.

Literary legends Truman Capote and Harper Lee were colleagues and best friends. Lee accompanied Capote as his research partner, mentor and confidante while he investigated the Clutter family murders for his famous book In Cold Blood. While Lee helped Capote significantly in the creation of his major work, the two reportedly mentored one another toward success, with Lee assisting with investigation, and Capote providing editorial notes for her novel To Kill a Mockingbird.


In "8 ways to attract and hire your Dream Team" we identified the importance of advocacy. It is a point that cannot be overemphasized. When you promote team members, colleagues, or even ex-employees, you are their advocate. You are demonstrating the importance of the relationship. Show appreciation, follow them on social media, encourage others to do the same. People appreciate being remembered. It creates goodwill all around and it's our favorite kind of win at The Hire - a win-win!

An effective leader is a partner, coach, and mentor, and promoting others excellent work. They support skills advancement, practice, and help their team discover strengths and areas of opportunity. Sound like a lot? It can be, but we know you are up to it!

Lisa Crockett is a leader and professional development coach with more than 20 years of experience in Human Resources, Learning, and Performance. To learn more about her professional career visit her on LinkedIn.

*Not all situations will be coachable. If you find your coachee needs professional medical or psychological assistance reach out to your HR team for assistance.

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