Are You A “Manager” or A “Leader”?

By Connee Zotos, Ph.D., Senior Associate, Sports Management Resources

As professionals progress from being employees to managers, leadership demands increase.  However, where leadership is expected of managers, such characteristics are not common expectations for employees.  Where do you fall in the following Employee-Manager-Leader paradigm?  Noting that both employees and managers can be leaders and that all of the following traits can be positively reflected by everyone in the organization, see if you possess the additional traits and skills that set managers and leaders apart.


  • Employee:  Behaves honestly and ethically
  • Manager:  Is trustworthy in working with the assets of the organization
  • Leader:  Demonstrates integrity and exercises self-denial for the good of the organization


  • Employee:  Is positive and upbeat
  • Manager:  Encourages group energy
  • Leader:  Radiates constant personal energy that the group adopts


  • Employee:  Is self-motivated
  • Manager:  Motivates others
  • Leader:  Demonstrates unwavering passion for the job and the organization


  • Employee:  Is dedicated to the organizational mission
  • Manager:  Is dedicated to organizational success
  • Leader:  Is dedicated to the well-being of all stakeholders and completely service oriented


  • Employee:  See tasks through
  • Manager:  Effectively multi-tasks
  • Leader:  Delegates most tasks and focuses on critical issues only


  • Employee:  Accepts accountability for own work 
  • Manager:  Accepts accountability for own work and for work of those supervised
  • Leader:  Holds others accountable by creating internal structures to monitor and test own and others’ accountability 


  • Employee:  Enjoys working with others
  • Manager:  Empowers others to work with others
  • Leader:  Identifies and surround self and others with other leaders

Conceptual Skills  

  • Employee:  Has basic problem solving skills 
  • Manager:  Is analytical and recognizes patterns  
  • Leader:  Sees the big picture and identifies next steps for others

Writing Skills     

  • Employee:  Can communicate basic concepts 
  • Manager:  Can synthesize information in writing
  • Leader:  Writes persuasively and effectively summarizes information in writing

Verbal Skills      

  • Employee:  Is easily understood    
  • Manager:  Clearly and concisely communicates expectations 
  • Leader:  Communicates persuasively

Listening Skills  

  • Employee:  Listens and processes information
  • Manager:  Listens, critiques and prioritizes       
  • Leader:  Seeks to understand first and then seeks to understand most effective way to respond

Commitment to Improvement  

  • Employee:  Is inquisitive  
  • Manager:  Transforms new ideas into    valuable improvements   
  • Leader:  Has an insatiable appetite for valuable improvements, learning and self-renewal       

Tolerance for Change

  • Employee:  Is open-minded to change 
  • Manager:  Recognizes the need for and takes responsibility for implementing change
  • Leader:  Has an uncanny ability to spot needs and opportunities and seize change solutions

Decision Making

  • Employee:  Can identify appropriate decision alternatives
  • Manager:   Demonstrates decisiveness     
  • Leader:  Willingly takes responsibility for defining decision alternatives on all important issues

Cultural Sensitivity

  • Employee:  Respects difference
  • Manager:  Celebrates difference
  • Leader:  Surrounds self and organization with difference