One question that I repeatedly come across and one that all leaders should themselves consider is ‘what is the difference between a leader vs manager’. There are indeed many opinions on this, but there is a general consensus - a leader is a visionary.

A leader establishes direction, and they align and motivate people to achieve goals. Managers, on the other hand, tend to be more involved in operational matters such as planning, budgeting, organising staffing and problem solving.

There are many different levels of management, but managers at all levels can face conflict – should they be doing more leadership activities or more management activities? It is natural to be drawn towards immediate goals such as quarterly targets, operational tasks or the budget. However, managers must remember that they are also leaders.

What traits does a good leader need?

Leaders might not need to manage, but managers always need to lead and therefore both leaders and managers should practice good leadership traits. To illustrate this concept, I always give the analogy of a football manager. He can’t go out on the field and play, he can only stand on the side-lines, directing the team and motivating them by cheering them on. His responsibility it to make them perform on the pitch because he can’t do this for them.

The most important thing is to empower people, empower them to win. You are their biggest champion.

Leaders set realistic and achievable goals and take care of the mental health of their teams. A good leader has an inspiring vision and a realistic mission and motivates people to join them on this quest.

Can you learn to be a good leader?

Unlike football, leadership isn’t a spectator sport. You can’t just watch a good leader and expect to become one yourself, or read a book and think you have mastered the art. Leadership is experiential, you must learn the skills and actively apply the traits. That is exactly what we teach on RGU’s online MBA Programme.

Learning to be a leader through practical application is at the top of our agenda and the flagship offering on our three MBA degrees does just that. We invite our students from across the globe to attend a 7-day Leadership Week on our campus in Aberdeen.

During Leadership Week our students have the opportunity to learn from each other and build strong peer networks. They will apply their leadership skills by taking part in activities and games and will gain academic underpinning through attending lectures. We also invite eminent guest speakers from industry and academia to share some of their own leadership experiences and challenges.

Another interesting component of Leadership Week is our business simulation experience. MBA students break into teams and run a virtual company, applying all the MBA theories they have learned as well as using their own experiences. One team wins, so this exercise really does get competitive.

During their studies, our students will also undertake a Constancy Project for an industry client on a live business issue. Again, they must put into practice their leadership and strategic skills to address the problem. Students then present back their implementable recommendations - invaluable to both the student and the business.

If you would like to develop or strengthen your own leadership skills, our MBA Programme is designed to help you learn and apply the skills to become an excellent leader. Our Programme includes MBA Master of Business Administration, MBA Oil and Gas Management and MBA Sustainability and Energy Transitions. Your online MBA can be completed full-time or part-time with intakes in both September and January. Find out more at