What is the difference between job titles operations lead and operations manager in an organizational hierarchy. Which one holds the greater position.

  • 3
    You will not find a consistent answer. Every organization is free to label their levels as they see fit. For large, complex organization or project, you can have a lead over a manager who is over a lead who is over a manager...or other fancy titles. If you want to gauge scope of a role, look at both number of people managed and money managed. Those are the two most reliable indicators of role scope. Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 12:57
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    Managers generally hold more organizational authority than leads, but there are always exceptions. I knew a VP once whose official title was "Junior Assistant Web Monkey." YMMV.
    – Todd A. Jacobs
    Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 17:51

4 Answers 4


A "manager" title normally implies you can shape your team, while a "lead" is often presented with a given team he has to lead.

However, job titles are not regulated. A company could appoint someone to manage the whole company all by himself and call him "senior clown" and that would be perfectly legal. So check the job descriptions to be sure what each job is about.


The TTKDroid definition is:

LEAD = Has subject matter expertise, but not necessarily manages. Can articulate the lower level details and be a role model for the team. Provides technical/SME guidance to junior team members.

MANAGER = Doesn't necessarily have subject matter expertise, but manages to assign people and resources required to complete the tasks at hand. May not articulate the lower level details, but can leverage the team expertise.


In my experience:

  • Lead --> means someone who manages a particular discipline (design, engineering, even project management)
  • Manager --> means someone who manages overall processes in aggregate, without regards to discipline.

So, a "Design Lead" would be concerned with the design of a project, and that's his domain, all he worries about. A manager looks at the project holistically, conferring with the various team leads to make decisions.

Also, in my experience, the team leads make decisions within their discipline--managers make sure those decisions are implemented/enforced, etc.


Depends on organisation practice, but usually its:

Lead : may/may not do the project work, but responsible for technical deliverable

Manager : not doing the project work, but responsible for the timeline of the project

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