How to Tell If You’re a Manager or a Leader

“Leaders are born, not made.”

You’re probably not the only one who’s heard this age-old adage during trying times that tested your leadership skills. You’re also not the only one who’s wondered what the difference between a manager and a leader is.

To put things in perspective, here’s a condensed definition of the two and how they impact the psyche of modern workers.

Manager | ˈmanɪdʒə

“A person responsible for controlling or managing a group of staff within an organization.”

Leader | ˈliːdə

“A person who commands or leads an organized group or a country.”

What is so unique about leaders that makes people look up to them in awe and what makes a manager a person who just herds a group of workers together. This debate has been raging on for years, but the fact still remains that your staff members will look up to you if you possess certain qualities. While there are some great leadership training programs that can steer you in the right direction, there are some intrinsic qualities that both managers and leaders should possess. Let’s find out what these attributes are:

A Visionary

That title on your job profile might suggest that you’re leading your organization through thick and thin. However, it is the presence of a vision that sets things in motion. This vision will then become the groundwork for all processes and provide a solid foundation for the business to flourish.

Leader– A leader will always seek and share their vision about the business. They will

actively set goals for themselves and their team based on the available skill sets and

empower the workforce to achieve these goals with ease.

 Manager – A manager would rather work on a predefined vision and look to measure the goals in order to take the organization forward.

A Disrupter

While setting goals and achieving targets is an important growth aspect of any organization, there is always room for challenging the status quo. People at the helm of businesses and organizations who look for more streamlined ways of working, embrace technology and show a certain fearlessness, often command respect amongst their peers and subordinates.

Leader – Will find ways to adopt newer methods of working even if the current methods are yielding good results. Has a knack for not settling for the mundane and is always on the lookout for bettering systems and processes.

Manager – They tend to rely on the tried and tested ways of working. A manager will be more than happy to ensure the current system works fine, however, will be reluctant in implementing a better strategy, due to the fear of failure.

A Risk Taker

During the course of a business cycle, there may come a time when a certain amount of risk needs to be taken, a sort of gamble that can go either way. While these risks can be easily avoided, a person with the determination to try new things will never back down at the opportunity to take a risk. For if it works, it will prove beneficial for the business; if it doesn’t work, it can be a part of the learning curve.

Leader- Displays a keen interest in ‘going into the unknown.’ Encourages staff members to implement ideas even if they pose a risk to the current ways of working.

Manager – Will look for ways to minimize risk. Approaches situations as per the specified workflow and will never deviate from the specified methods.

Long Term Thinking

All organizations thrive on decisive thinking and planning that sets them on a growth trajectory. With a focussed approach and determination, decision-makers who look at the ‘larger picture’ tend to be more driven in their approach. Long term thinking leads to trying newer methods and learning from mistakes so that appropriate course correction can take place when required.

Leader – Is always determined to pursue the bigger idea, and will stay on course even if a few setbacks come in the way.

Manager – Will focus on achieving short-term goals. Their attention is always on

delivering by the book and long term thinking gets lost in achieving daily/monthly targets.


Modern-day businesses will always evolve, and they will always require both managers and leaders for their growth. A business that has a good mix of these two personalities will undoubtedly be on the path to success within no time. So are you a manager or a leader? We’ll be happy to hear your views in the comments section.

Leave a Comment