Are You a Leader or Manager of Your Team?

Leader or manager; what is the difference, and what traits do each have?

The roles of managers and leaders are both critical within an organization. Excellent leaders aren’t always great managers, and being a phenomenal manager doesn’t necessarily mean being an exceptional leader. You can be both, though, and the best managers are also leaders. Find out what sets them apart and take our quiz challenge.


In this article:

  1. Key Difference Between Leadership and Management
    1. A Manager Organizes and a Leader Innovates
    2. Managers Control and Leaders Inspire Trust
    3. Managers Control and Leaders Inspire Trust
  2. Leader or Manager Challenge

Leader or Manager: Key Differences and Quiz Challenge

The key differences between a leader and a manager come down to styles of work and how they interact with other people.

Managers generally control a group of people to achieve specific goals. Leaders can influence and motivate others, enabling colleagues to make contributions to the success of the team and organization.

Key Difference Between Leadership and Management

A Manager Organizes and a Leader Innovates

happy young female manager wearing wireless headphones looking at the screen | Not too personal

A manager establishes suitable targets, and assesses, appraises, and decodes performance. A manager will understand the people they work with and select the best person for a specific task. They generally only maintain what is already established.

A leader will have new ideas and often transition an organization into a different phase. They are focused on the development and creating new techniques to make improvements. Leaders will also have perceptive awareness and knowledge of trends, skill sets, and advancements.

A Manager Organizes and a Leader Innovates

A man having video call via computer at home | A Manager Organizes and a Leader Innovates

Managers control expenses or stick to a budget while managing employees. Managers understand their subordinates well and establish control over employees by adhering to their job description.

Leaders will push their employees to do their best and set an acceptable pace for the team or organization.

Managers Ask ‘How’ and ‘When’ While Leaders ask ‘What’ and ‘Why’

A manager won’t analyze mistakes and problems. Instead, they will ask questions to make sure the plans are correctly executed. They generally accept things for how they are and don’t make an effort to change or challenge decisions.

A leader will always question and challenge things, especially if they don’t see value in the task, and particularly if it doesn’t serve the team’s best interests. Leaders have good judgment and confidence to get senior decisions reviewed or improved. They will also ask questions after mistakes, failures, or rough patches and assess what was learned.


Check out the below statements, answer honestly, and evaluate whether you’re a leader or a manager. You can even refer back to these questions later to see how your leadership style has changed. If you’re brave enough, ask your colleagues to answer the questions from your perspective too.

Leader or Manager Challenge

Do the following statements sound like you?

Do you call yourself ‘the boss,’ or do your team members refer to you as ‘the boss’?

Do you tell people what to do and assign tasks, for example, via email, providing instructions on how to accomplish them, and give a deadline? Do you say do this because I’m your boss/manager?

Do your staff follow your directions and seek to please you?

When things go wrong, do you find out who made a mistake, blame them, and reprimand them? Do you make sure your bosses know that it wasn’t you who made a mistake?

When attending meetings with your ‘superiors’ or line managers, do you tell them that ‘you’ are working hard to get results versus ‘we’ (the team) are working hard?

Do you build processes and systems? Is your focus on the structures required to achieve goals? Do you regularly monitor analytics and ensure systems are set up to get the sought after results?

When reviewing staff progress, do you monitor individuals’ goals and objectives?

If the above sounds like you, then you’re a manager.

Here are some examples of empathy dos and don’ts that salespeople can incorporate into their interactions with customers.

Do the following statements sound like you?

Do you build relationships? Is your focus on people, all people, including stakeholders that need influencing to realize the vision? Do you build trust and loyalty by delivering on your promise consistently?

Do you feel like your job is about serving your team members, nurturing their growth and success within the organization, and furthering their careers?

Are you a good listener and give your undivided attention to your team members? Do your colleagues walk away from meetings and conversations with you feeling positive and motivated regardless of whether the news was good or bad?

Do you guide your colleagues, showing them how things are done? Do you help out with the workload even if it’s ‘not part of your job description’?

If you get praise from above or from customers, do you share the success with your work members, recognizing who else was involved at all levels?

Are you a supporter of training, coaching, and continuous improvement and instill these ethics in your colleagues?

Do you have faith in your team members to provide answers or find answers? Do you see the potential in others, know they’re competent, and resist the urge to tell people what to do?

If things go wrong, do you naturally review what happened, look at ways to make improvements, and make process changes. You don’t blame anyone for the failures and reflect on what you could have done better for the team.

Do you empower your colleagues to thrive in their roles? Do you make sure they have all the tools they need and all the possibilities to achieve success?

Do you work with people who follow and promote you? Do you work with people who do all they can to help build your ‘brand’ and help you achieve your goals?

If the above sounds like you then you’re a leader.

Are you a leader or manager? What do you think defines each? Please comment in the section below.

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