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

October 16 is National Boss’s Day—a day to celebrate bosses who have been “kind and fair throughout the year.”

If kind and fair (basic human decency) misses the mark, it’s safe to say the manager in question isn’t winning at this leadership thing. Having a manager title doesn’t make someone a leader.


Managers need to have good communication, organization, and planning skills. A bad manager can easily make employees miserable (sometimes without even knowing it). A good manager who is also a good leader can be the soul of a positive workplace culture.

“Leaders create fans, managers have employees.” —William Arruda, Forbes Contributor


Rasmus Hougaard and Jacqueline Carter found three mental qualities of a great leader:

  1. Mindfulness: The ability to focus with ease and have stable awareness.
  2. Selflessness: The confidence to get out of an employee’s way and humbly be of service.
  3. Compassion: The intention to actively support employees and help their happiness.

 “Leading with mindfulness, selflessness, and compassion makes you more human and less leader.” —Carter & Hougaard

Managing is about the job. Leadership is about the people. Managers create goals and tell their employees how to attain them. Leaders motivate and inspire their employees for a greater vision.


When a manager acts with leadership qualities, it increases employee engagement, happiness, and productivity. Even if mindfulness, selflessness, and compassion don’t come naturally to a manager, they are qualities that can be learned, practiced, and honed.

Cheers to all the great leaders out there! Pencil in National Boss’s Day on your calendar and thank your boss for being so great … because you’ve likely experienced a not so great one.

Related Blog: 4 Tips to Help Leaders Become Actively Involved in Wellness