What’s the difference between a leader and a manager?

When searching for executives and other senior-level professionals, you must look for two important qualities: Those who can manage and those who can lead. On the surface, a leader and a manager may sound the same. After all, a manager does lead his or her team. However, there are differences between the two.

An Inc.com article addresses some of these differences. Curt Richardson, the article's author, says it comes down to how each individual approaches the company's vision. 

"Leaders have a unique ability to rally employees around a vision. Because their belief in the vision is so strong, employees will naturally want to follow them," Richardson writes. "Managers, on the other hand, are more adept at executing the vision in a very systemic way and directing employees on how to do so. They can see all of the intricate moving parts and understand how to make them harmonize. Managers are usually very risk-adverse."

Both positions are equally important. Finding an executive or senior manager or leader that possesses both qualities is rare, but those who do will benefit the organization tremendously. It's far more likely you will find individuals who perform one of these roles very well, which means you must ensure they work well together and that the company's ultimate mission is not compromised. 

In many cases, people are natural born leaders or managers. Depending on your need, it's important to identify these qualities in your candidate. Working with a search firm that specializes in finding key executives can assist in recruiting the right talent to perform these roles.