The interviewer would like to know that you understand what makes a leader genuinely stand out. Just because you are a manager, that does not mean you are a leader.
A real leader is someone who makes others want to jump on board with their mission and follow them. A manager is just someone who has people under them. To be an excellent leader, you should offer a balance between the two. You need to be able to have people buy into your vision but at the same time, show authority when necessary.
"I believe that the difference between a leader and manager is that a manager has the job title and the incumbents, but not necessarily the required buy-in from their team."
"A leader is someone who people want to follow. A manager is someone who others feel they have to follow. I think a manager or supervisor should be a healthy blend of both."
"A manager is someone who has a team of people who answer to them. A leader is someone of influence and, I believe, anyone can be a leader - no matter their job title or position."
"To me, leadership is a mindset versus a title. A manager is more of a job title. Anyone can possess leadership skills, but a great manager will have leadership skills along with the ability to direct their team to success."
"I have worked with both leaders and managers. The biggest difference I can see is that a leader can be anyone who people want to follow. A leader will gain followers, and a manager merely has people who answer to them."
"In sales, a leader will tell you your goals and help you make a plan aimed at achieving those goals. Someone who is a manager will only tell you the company goals and send you on your way. I am the type of person who prefers to lead and guide. There is a huge benefit to investing in those you lead."
"Coaching and mentoring are activities of a true leader. I firmly believe that one does not need to be in a formal management role to lead. I have students who lead other students, and it's great to see."