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Difference Between a Team Leader & an Assistant Manager

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Team leaders and assistant managers can be used to extend the power, control and oversight of employees. However, assistant managers have more ability to make decisions when compared to team leads who follow established policies. The decision to use assistant managers and team leaders depends on how much decision-making power is needed.

Use of Team Leaders

Team leaders are often placed in positions where additional direction is needed. This may include positions where managers do not have the time or ability to manage the daily workflow and therefore must augment their time and influence with a team leader. Team leaders often have little extra responsibilities other than to ensure proper workflow and the quality of the work being conducted.

Use of Assistant Managers

Assistant managers are a direct extension of the manager. In cases where there are multiple shifts or an abundance of management duties, such as disciplinary, record keeping and administration, an assistant manager may be appointed. This appointment will help the manager cover her responsibilities and duties.

Locus of Control

Assistant managers have more locus of control when it comes to employee discipline, rewards and management of responsibility. Team leaders often cannot issue discipline to workers and must rely on the power of the manager or assistant manager to issue corrective action. Their function is relatively limited when compared to assistant managers.

Decision Making Ability

Assistant managers have much greater ability to make decisions in their job. This includes discipline, workflow, customer relations and giving direction. Team leaders often need to follow policies and procedures in order to complete work. Any adjustment on these policies and procedures requires permission from the assistant manager or manager.


Murad Abel has more than 15 years of experience in management and consulting. He is a business leader in the casino industry, as well as an academic professor in the subjects of business, management, leadership, human-resource management and communications. Abel earned his M.B.A. at Davenport University and his Doctor of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix.

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