Aug 8

By Elizabeth Johnson

What’s The Difference Between a Manager and a Leader?

Leaders and managers are not the same. Your hotel may have great managers, but without great leaders, you’ll struggle to deliver the kind of service that keeps guests coming back. You’ll also struggle with keeping employees from leaving. Great managers are important, but leaders motivate employees and drive the success of your organization.

What’s the difference in a leader and a manager? In a nutshell, people work for managers, but people follow leaders.

Managers Tell…Leaders Sell

While managers tell people what to do and how to do it, leaders present their ideas in a way that make employees enthusiastic about being part of it. Managers demand compliance, but leaders build commitment among their team members.

Managers Set Goals…Leaders Set Vision

Leaders set long-term direction, unite their teams around a shared vision, and include everyone in making the dream a reality. Managers are short-term goal-oriented and focus on meeting milestones or benchmarks.

Managers Optimize Processes…Leaders Optimize People

Optimized processes are necessary, but leaders know that when people are aligned with organizational vision, understand the goals, and are motivated by personal accountability, they regularly achieve the impossible. Leaders focus on helping each member of their team be the best they can be.

Managers Supervise…Leaders Coach

Leaders value growth, so they don’t expect perfection or blind compliance from their team. Instead, they help employees buy into ideas and create a growth plan for each person. Managers supervise their employees, leaving each person on the team to manage their own career (and job satisfaction).

Managers Assign Tasks…Leaders Encourage Ideas

Gaining trust and encouraging team members to have a stake in the organization’s direction and vision is a leader’s secret weapon. Leaders develop the unique skills of their employees, encouraging ideas along the way. The result is a relationship built on trust and respect. When employees feel heard and valued, they’re loyal to the organization. Conversely, managers assign tasks and expect them to be done in a prescribed way.

Managers Minimize Risk…Leaders Take Risks

It’s part of a manager’s job to minimize risks. However, without risk, your organization can’t grow and evolve. Leaders take calculated risks that can steer the business in new directions.

Managers React to Change…Leaders Promote Change

Few people like change, and it’s a manager’s job to maintain the status quo and minimize changes as much as possible. Leaders see change as opportunities for growth. They encourage change and find ways to optimize the potential for new directions. 

Managers are important to the culture and day-to-day operations of your hotel. However, leaders are the people that will come up with new ideas, see broader perspectives, and get their teams on board with new ideas. A leader’s job is to think big, see the best in people, and help employees manage their growth and satisfaction. If you’re looking for increased success, employee and guest and satisfaction, and reduced turnover in your business, great managers are important – but great leaders are essential. 

To get yourself or your managers on the leadership track, learn about AHLEI’s new online course, Hospitality Manager: Leadership.