The Difference Between a Team Leader & Manager

These are intriguing questions: People often ask: What is the real difference between a designated team leader and a manager in a company or business? Which is better for a company, having a team leader to call the shots or a manager? Can a company entertain the two centers of power and still thrive? Are these posts mutually exclusive? 

Of course, people who work for a company or private industry are all expected to serve in a cohesive team or department. The workers are collectively expected to follow guidelines set by higher authorities and duly appointed supervisors. The question still arises: Who between a team leader and manager should call the shots in a proper corporate structure? 

1. The manager appoints, team leader executes

Ordinarily, a manager is the one who appoints his team leader. He may make a selection from different, well-deserving individuals who are then tasked with leading the execution of specific projects. A team leader’s duties broadly include giving instructions, providing direction, and guiding a team to meet the set targets. 

The team leader commonly works alongside his group. The leader is tasked with the preparation of progress reports, which are eventually forwarded to the manager. A highly diligent individual, who has also proved to be a successful team leader on multiple assigned projects may, in time, be considered for a managerial post.

For efficient operations, both the manager and the team leader should guide and direct the employees so that their career goals and growth are adequately catered for. In a nutshell, then, what is the difference between these two crucial roles in a company or business?

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The Difference Between a Team Leader & Manager
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2. Team leader inspires, manager directs

Often, people mistake management roles with leadership. The reality is that management and leadership are two significantly different tasks. How could we define the term ‘leadership skills?’ This might be defined as the ability of a person to inspire and encourage others, striving to work hard and deliver an efficient outcome, thus enhancing the success of his team or organization. Both the manager and the team leader require specific leadership skills.

What is the right personality style for a team leader or manager? This may be evident by the air of confidence and charisma that the person in this role emits in the course of his work. Interestingly, both jobs have some common points. They both take risks and tackle identical challenges in the course of duty. They aim at working to achieve similar goals and targets.

Team leaders focus more on giving a sense of encouragement to their charges instead of imposing authority. They want to drive achievement in employees and are proud when the workers under them succeed. In contrast, the role of a manager often involves a much colder approach to the business of guiding workers to get results. His task involves the control and direction of a group to achieve a collective organizational target.

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3. The manager pushes for results, team leader protects

In general, managers are expected to work for the company. Team leaders, in contrast, strive to fight for employee welfare and satisfaction. Most managers are highly skilled in analyzing situations and guide their workers to meet company goals. To achieve this, they must be quite smart. 

One key trait of a manager is the tendency to stick to a principle or rule, regardless of whether employees agree with it. Managers care less about the individual’s emotions as much as they care about achieving company objectives. This is the reason why managers are described as adopting a cold approach to work. By nature, they are, therefore, mostly focused on results.

4. Manager plans, team leader inspires

What does the definition of leadership mean? It refers to an individual’s ability to encourage and inspire others to achieve the organization’s collective goals. Such a leader empowers and motivates the team to work, solve issues, and complete assigned tasks successfully and in time. 

Some have asked: Which is better for a company, is it leadership or management? It is essential to realize that both of these roles are interlinked and should be complementary. Whether the employees serve under a team leader or manager, the main aim is to achieve success for the company’s goals and objectives.

There is a significant difference between the way a manager or team leader approaches problem-solving and task completion. Generally, a team leader will always have people following him because of his inspiration role in the work environment. The manager, on the other hand, is tasked with planning issues and ensuring that everything runs efficiently. In this sense, a thin line separates a leader and a manager.

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The Difference Between a Team Leader & Manager
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5. Manager fights for growth, team leader builds a following

 A manager tends to be more interested in his personal growth as well as the overall welfare of the company he serves. He generally cares less about the individual worker’s personal growth. He works hard to exploit the employees to the maximum in a bid to realize the success of the company or business.

 In contrast, a team leader first encourages the individual member in his work. His welfare and career growth interests often come second in this scheme of things. Team leaders work tirelessly to inspire and develop a large following made up of people who hold similar opinions and views as them.

6. Manager’s goals short-term, team leader’s benevolent

 Managers concentrate more on taking care of the duties and tasks assigned to them by superiors in the company. The manager’s primary goals are, therefore, short-term and motivated by the company’s guidelines and rules.

As the adage goes, a leader creates change, but the manager believes not in change. Instead, he is interested in maintaining the status quo to the extent that this is possible. As a result of this mindset, people who work under a manager are bound to suffer some work friction due to a conflict in thinking between them and the boss. 

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7. Team leader drives change; manager wants continuity

Why do managers generally prefer to keep the interests of the status quo alive and kicking? One reason is that most managers have always followed a similar pattern in work processes to drive their personal and company growth, exploiting employee service. They are, therefore, usually unwilling to let go of what they consider as tried and tested successful methods. The team leader, on the other hand, strives to create change and development in his primary approach to work.

What causes this big difference in methodology? The main reason is that a manager primarily wants to drive stability within the team. The team leader, on his part, prefers to drive change even as he seeks results. Most team leaders wish to create changes that will impact long term results and benefit worker’s welfare.

8. The team leader is a coach, the manager seeks efficiency

Just like a soccer trainer, a team leader coaches his team to achieve success. A manager is, instead, mainly focused on his managerial and administrative roles that demand efficiency in the workplace. These factors make it visible why employees are generally endeared to their team leaders more than their managers.

A manager tends to transfer his load of work to other employees. A leader, however, tries as much as possible to help his team members to complete the tasks while sharing the workload. All these issues are essential in helping us to understand the differences in the roles of managers, team leaders, and their approach to work processes.

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The Difference Between a Team Leader & Manager
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9. The team leader is passionate, the manager is a capitalist

Team leaders usually thrive due to their passion, excitement, and enthusiasm at work. This may be contrasted with the role of managers that requires them to guide their subordinates and employees even as both sides strive to strike a balance between the corporate and personal fulfillment. In this set of circumstances, a team leader is more interested in achieving the personal gains of his team members, while managers tend to work for capital gain.

10. The manager seeks credit, the team leader is philanthropic

Moreover, a manager typically tries to take all credit for the work done. A team leader, however, puts the welfare of his team at the forefront. Of course, variations to these structures also exist. In some workplaces, it may be possible for a manager to treat his team with relative tenderness.

 It is, however, not usually possible for a manager to maintain things that way since his inner motives are selfish by nature. This stance is what helps him to fulfill his career growth in the long run. As noted already, a team leader always prioritizes the interests of his team.

A leader typically showers members of his team with encouraging words of appreciation for a job well delivered. Comparatively, managers will quickly claim the full credit for any work that is successfully done or fight to share the credits with well-deserving employees who worked hard to make everything click.

The Difference Between a Team Leader & Manager
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11. The manager assigns blame, team leader takes it

Interestingly, when things go wrong, the manager will instinctively blame the employees for any real or perceived mistakes made at work. A leader will typically take the blame for whatever mistakes that members of his team make. He will be quick to share the trophy with the winning team while showering it with accolades and praises. Unlike the manager, a team leader does not wish to take the credit alone for a job well done. He wants to empower the team, inspire, and motivate them to do even more.

A manager imposes his authority and powers over the subordinate employees while a team leader is not primarily interested in exercising power. Instead, he wants to develop competence within individual team members.

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12. Manager exudes power, team leader empowers

Some unwitty managers have tended to use their power and authority to degrade subordinates within the workplace, thereby undermining the workers’ confidence. In case of issues that threaten their positions, such managers may try to save their jobs first while demonstrating a readiness to sacrifice subordinate employees. A leader does not do this. In case of problems, he still does everything to stand with the team, seeking to develop power within members so that, in the future, they may depend less on patronage, standing up on their own.

Sadly, some managers demonstrate the attitude that power is a formal authority that is granted to them, giving them the right to boss around with everyone under their charge. Such people are more geared towards a desire to control power for their selfish gain.

Team Leaders do not do this; they perceive power as incorporating their personality, instead of being a mere formal obligation bestowed on them to use arbitrarily. They, therefore, work to be proactive while, at the same time, leading and coaching their team positively.

The Difference Between a Team Leader & Manager
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13. Team leader seeks opportunities, manager evaluates

It is undoubtedly easy to pinpoint negative factors in the manager’s general work behavior. It is, however, essential to understanding that a manager’s seemingly critical response might, in the final analysis, serve to help employees to push their limits in the course of their work.

Most team leaders, on their part, are eager to seize opportunities to make a powerful statement within the company by inspiring team members to achieve set goals and aspirations. 

Yes, the team leader tries to use all available resources to forestall needless conflicts between employees and co-workers. He is the veritable agent of peace in this regard. In contrast, before reaching a decision, a manager first works to evaluate these opportunities to determine if a suitable candidate is fit for a given task.

14. Team leader appreciates, the manager wants outcomes

When a fresh graduate first starts in his chosen career, he is usually quite excited about working in his dream job. Without a doubt, such a person is delicate and needs to be treated with the utmost care and positivity. 

In most cases, however, the managers in the workplace usually appreciate results more and believing in it. They also place an inordinate value on it, without regard to the efforts a fresher might put in the execution of his task. 

Considering this, team leaders must appreciate the efforts of their charges. This helps the fresher to feel motivated in the performance of their job since they believe that someone recognizes their initiatives in the workplace.

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The Difference Between a Team Leader & Manager
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Undoubtedly, as regards the roles of both the team leader and manager, we can find some positive and negative points to think about. Regardless, what matters when discussing the difference between these two roles is that employees who work under them can easily sense the intentions that daily motivate their work behavior. 

The factors that are extensively discussed here will, hopefully, help us discern the huge difference between a team leader and a manager. We probably know better now. 

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