Am I a Leader or a Manager?

In this blog, I will provide my view on what it means being a manager and what does it mean being a leader.

Srihari Udugani
4 min readJan 31, 2024
Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

Many young managers are given a title of Engineering Manager or Development Manager or Software Development Manager etc. and they are told to showcase leadership qaulities in what they do.

For some this creates confusion. The designation is related to being a manager, then, why I need to showcase leadership qualities?

The reason for the confusion between a leader and manager is because leader is always looked as someone who is in higher roles in management but not somebody from middle management.

Is this true? Is there a real difference between a leader and manager? And whether a manager can be a leader?

In this blog, I will attempt to simplify the differences between a leader and a manager.

The context

In an organisation or a company various roles are hired to make sure the companies vision and mission can be achieved.

To achieve the vision and mission of a company there will be different functions created in form of business units. These functions in-turn try to align to the vision and mission of the company and perform their day-to-day activities.

To continue to exist as a company, each function should perform efficiently to gain more customers and make profits.

So, who is breaking down the companies vision to function level visions and who is breaking down these function level visions to actual work and then creating products or services that are needed by the customers?

This is where two broad roles gets defined - Leader and Manager.

So, in general,
Leader, is a person who defines a vision for a workforce and helps to pave the road to success for achieving the vision.
Manager, is a person who make sure the workforce do activities that are required on a day-to-day basis, by planning and allocating to achieve the vision.

How a Manager and a Leader are different?

In the past, a Leader and a Manager were seen as a different roles in a company. In modern days, the gap between them have substantially reduced.

A leader and manager mainly differ on how they demonstrate the traits of management.

Below snapshot shows 7-key traits comparison for Leader and Manager.

Comparison of traits between a Leader and a Manager

What should leadership mean to managers?

If you look at the traits for leaders and managers, it is the same. But the way those traits are expected to be demonstrated creates a difference in their role and in-turn impacts the growth of a company.

Think about this, as a manager instead of always thinking on how to achieve a given project, start thinking about why this project is important.
As a manager, could you start managing your team with a combination of giving directions and coaching them?
As a manager, could you start taking bit more risks while executing a project or designing a product? and so on.

If you are able to show the traits in a way a leader showcases the same traits, then you are creating a growth path for yourself towards leadership roles.

This requires bit of mindset change. Instead of being too focused on planning, allocating and tracking, start identifying opportunities to bring changes that not only helps your team, but also peer teams.

This way you will get to demonstrate the traits similar to a leader.

Final thoughts

A manager main responsibility is to make the day-to-day operations are not impacted.

With this, if a manager can demonstrate the traits in a way similar to a leader, then you will be adding more value back to the company, which in-turn create a growth path to leadership roles.

To showcase the traits like a leader, it is important to make few mindset changes.

Let me know in the comments section, what other traits makes sense to compare between a leader and a manager.

Happy management!

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Further reading



Srihari Udugani

Knowledge Made Simple and Structured, Decisions Made Clear. Happy success!