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  • Sarah Ayton

Distinguishing a Leader from a Manager

Updated: Oct 16, 2020


A difference in the theory of leadership has been the growth and change from how change occurs. While previously there has been a top-down approach of the leaders, seniors and managers situated as the decision-makers, there is now much more of a bottom-up approach where employees further down the line of responsibility are asked for feedback and points of change for the business (King, 1990).

The term ‘leader’ has been cited as early as the 1300s. Several main leadership styles have been coined. Leadership is the process of creating a relationship between leaders and their team members where the leader aims to influence employees’ behaviour to achieve certain organisational goals.


The opportunity available to businesses is to assess whether the leadership styles of their managers can be utilised more effectively. The leadership style of an individual may be linked to increased productivity and a better working environment for both employees and employers. As industries are changing and adapting to a more technological era, management must use the assets they have, specifically the high-performance traits of their employees.


One can describe a manger as an individual who gets things done with the support of others, and an ‘effective manager’ as one who ‘gets things done’ to ensure order and continuity. Whereas an ‘effective leader’ may be described as someone who brings innovation and makes a difference.


There are certain models of influence which leaders and managers may fall into. The traits models are: the big five and James Burns’ Transformational and Transactional. The big five explains how an individual’s observed traits can be grouped into five clusters. Acknowledging what traits an individual has can improve the kind of support the business should provide.


All Individuals have the opportunity to be a decision-maker


Burns (1978) transactional and transformational leadership style are two of the more prominently known styles. “A transactional leader is one who treats leadership as an exchange, giving followers what they want if they do what the leader desires”, whilst “a transformational leader is a leader who treats leadership as a matter of motivation and commitment, inspiring followers by appealing to higher ideals and moral values”. One difference between transactional and transformational leaders is that a transactional leader motivates their followers to meet the leaders’ expectations whereas the transformational leader motivates the follower to exceed the expectations.


New Grounds VC prides itself on its collaborative team, not only is the change style bottom-up there is predominantly a linear hierarchy, where management is also a member of the team. Decisions are made not with a democratic vote but by stress-testing all options presented. This stress testing proves effective by ensuring all individuals have the opportunity to be a decision-maker and have a positive impact on the progress of the business.

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