Which One Are You? A Leader or a Manager?

As I’m close to earning my License for School Administration, I was recently asked, “Do you know the difference between a Leader and a Manager?”  This answer seemed simple: The manager plans, organizes and coordinates. The leader inspires and motivates. I was then asked, “Which one are you?” This left me speechless.  Was I a leader? or was I a manager? OR… could I be both?

I’ve always thought of myself as a leader. Inspiring others to become better.  Challenging those to raise their ceiling.  Keeping my eye on the horizon.  But there are certainly qualities of a manager that I possess that are undeniable. I like to plan, organize, and coordinate. Short term goals keep me focused and I like to do things right. I relive this question over and over. I imagine myself in different situations where my strengths and weaknesses shine brightly.  I wonder what it is about me that people will want to follow.  I think so much about this question that my brain starts to hurt. I research and come across this video. It helps me define the difference between a leader and a manager:

I pause, reflect, breathe..and my “aha moment” starts to become clear!

I don’t think it has to be either/or.  Finding the balance between the two, for me, is what is the winning combination.

The possibility that I may just be a leader who has a few managerial skills is what my digging deep led me to believe.  I truly believe that leading with the idea of always “becoming better together” is the key to success. As Helen Keller believed, as do I, “Alone we can do so little;together we can do so much”.

img_4536As I unwrapped this concept of leader vs manager a little further, I came across George Couros’ (@gcouros) article, We Need Leaders and Managers.  He believes:

If you are truly effective in a leadership position, when asked the question are you a leader or a manager, here is what your answer should be…Both.

I continue to reflect upon this question, “Are you a Leader or a Manager?”  I often ponder… WHY do successful leaders need to have the qualities of both a leader and a manager? If we’re going to start with the “WHY”, then we must examine our own qualities. Taking a hard look into our strengths and weaknesses. Acknowledging what we have to offer other people. Being willing to take risks and to move out of our comfort zone. Once we have figured out the “WHY” we can then move forward with the “HOW”. Charting your course as a leader and/or manager is important.


Join me in reflection about Leaders vs Managers.  Find your WHY.  Chart your course. What are you waiting for?  Let’s Go!

2 thoughts on “Which One Are You? A Leader or a Manager?

Add yours

  1. So here’s yet another reason why blogging is so important to you, Melanie: As a school leader, a blog can help you to communicate your vision and explain your rationale in a consistent way that is darn near impossible — particularly in bigger schools. The fact is that blogs make your ideas accessible and transparent to everyone — teachers, parents, community stakeholders — at any time.

    Most of the principals that I have worked for in my 23 years struggled with this simply because making connections and communicating with large faculties in big buildings and given the demands of the principalship just isn’t doable. In fact, I can count the number of in depth conversations that I’ve had with my school administrators about philosophy or pedagogy in all of those years on one hand.

    That’s not because my bosses weren’t thoughtful and reflective. It was because everyone was too busy to find the time for those kinds of connections.

    But by blogging regularly, you can reach everyone easily and share a consistent message with everyone easily. That matters times ten.

    Hope you are well,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bill,
      I agree with you. Communication and relationship building for any admin can be difficult. I will continue to blog to share my thoughts in hopes people can get to know me better. I appreciate your comments!


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