Leader, Manager or Worker: Which One Are You in Your Relationships?

Are you a worker, a manager or a leader in your relationships?Recently, I had the privilege some videos of John Maxwell, author of over 50 books, including The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, The Power of Attitude, and The Power of Influence, explain with his all his charisma and enthusiasm the difference between leadership and management. Then I found some additional information contrasting and differentiating between the qualities and actions of a leader, a manager and a worker. Leader, Manager, Worker

This got me thinking about relationships. There are 3 ways to be involved in a relationship: as a leader (transforming your relationships), a manager (handling what is given to you) or a worker (going along with the established program ). Which one are you in your relationships?

Here are some of the qualities of each type.


*Performs basic and repetitive tasks and develops task expertise
*Follows rules, works independently and gives feedback to the manager or leader
*Works independently, is responsible for own effort but lacks an overarching viewpoint
*Interacts with outsiders, customers and other service providers according to directions
*External locus of control, creates approved products and services


*Controls, keeps track of things, budgets and makes ends meet
*Plans, organizes, solves problems and is responsible for performance of the group
*Creates structure, sets and follows rules, monitors the functioning of the group
*Interacts internally, keeping people in line, following the prescribed system
*External locus of control, avoids risk, and remains in comfort zone


*Creative risk taker: creates things, changes things and shakes things up
*Defines the mission, finds resources and creates an environment
*Sets the direction, the tone and aligns people and their activities
*Interacts with outsiders, inspires people and is responsible for overall outcome
*Internal locus of control, observes the outside culture and creates new systems

Now take some time to reflect upon your most significant relationships (professional, personal and intimate). How do you approach these different relationships? Are you a manager in your business, a leader in your personal relationships and just a worker with your significant other or your family?
Developing the leadership qualities can actually transform all aspects of your life? So much depends upon your point of view, your own personal attitude toward your life and toward everyone in it.

β€œThe greatest day in your life and mine is when we take total responsibility for our attitudes. That’s the day we truly grow up.” John Maxwell

So which one are YOU in YOUR relationships? Are you a skilled LEADER (transforming your relationships), a competent MANAGER (handling what is given to you), or a WORKER (merely going along with the established program and feeling inadequate and incapable of asserting your needs and making changes)? Please share your thoughts below.

If you are ready to become a leader and make changes in your relationships NOW, schedule a private coaching or counseling session with me at DrEricaWellness.com

Ready for some self-reflection to lead your toward developing your own leadership potential, read one of my books Love, Touch, Heal or my ebooks at Love, Touch, Heal EBooks.


Dr. Erica

33 thoughts on “Leader, Manager or Worker: Which One Are You in Your Relationships?

  1. Hi Erica,

    I would say that I am definitely a leader as far as my family relationships go. This can at times create turmoil, but it’s always worth it to know that I’m helping to bring our family to a better place, regardless of the pain that it may take to do so.

    Until recently I really don’t know where I would have classified myself in my professional relationships. I’ve always wanted to be a leader but for whatever reasons this did not happen. Over the last 6 months or so, though, things have begun to come together for me in a major way and I’m stepping up with true leadership qualities…and people are following πŸ™‚

    Interesting how we can hold such different roles, depending on the type of relationships we’re talking about. Great post!

    Kathy Jodrey

    • Kathy,

      Thanks for sharing so openly. And congratulations on stepping into the leadership role with others following. That’s one of the signs that you have become a leader, when others follow. Bravo!


  2. Hi Erica,

    This is interesting. At many times I find I have learned many new ideas from you about relationship. Honestly, I have never thought of this question before but now I can openly say that we (husband and wife) are both leaders !

    There are times when he can be a better leader and there are times I can be better. So, to me, I would say, I don’t always lead but there is a chance for both of us to take leadership position in certain given responsibilities πŸ™‚

    Very nice post and it gives me more ideas to talk to my prospects πŸ™‚


    • That’s wonderful, Pearly, that both of you can sometimes be leaders. It gives you both a sense the you make a difference and are able to affect each other and the relationship.


  3. I love reading and listening to John Maxwell and there are other people such as yourself, who inspire me. I decline to call myself a leader, that is for others to determine. But I know, if someone is hesitating to step into unknown water, I will take the first step to encourage and possibly to prove that, water doesn’t hurt. If I can do it so can you – type of attitude.

    And life is fun ! It’s boring to sit on the sidelines and watch other people grow, achieve success and enjoy life !
    Thanks for this post Dr. Erica. Very enjoyable.

    • Joyce,
      I suspect you are actually a strong leader, perhaps a feminine leader which is much softer, much more collaborative and cooperative. But the leadership can be and is quite powerful.


  4. Hi Dr. Erica, I would say that I’m a leader. I believe in shaking things up. By having gone through all the hard times of home business building it’s made me make sure I focus on providing help to avoid what I went through.

    The leadership traits you have listed are very important and takes time and commitment to learn and apply correctly. We do all these things to be able to help produce repeat sales for us and provide extended value for people we help. We really do need to define our mission and find resources.

    To have repeat sales coming in we have to let our customers and prospects know what’s out there. As we work side by side with business partners and customers we have to let them know we take specialized courses and training with the most up to date information. We need to pack in the value.

    If our niche is home business consulting we have to let them know all the training we are getting on that subject to let them know we are a valuable asset to them. I believe it starts with continuous training on valuable resources your niche target market needs more than anything else.

    But yea, if you’re not a leader or becoming a leader than it’s really hard to provide top value and guidance in this industry which is what people are looking for. Thanks for mentioning the different types of mindsets.

    People can’t just make themselves seem as though they’re a leader. They have to be one because in the end it all comes out in the wash. Thanks for the leadership you provide for your target market Erica. You re really valued by me and so many more in the network marketing industry..

    • Rick,
      Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment. I just created my video about MY Dream for Dream Friday. In it, I talked a lot about my unique training and background and I wondered how people might respond to that. Was it too much? But you just reassured me that to be a leader you do have to remind people about the trainings that make you qualified to lead them.

      Thank you so much,


  5. Hi Erica,

    Oh you always make me think and analyse things I wouldn’t normally do,lol!

    I guess I have been all three; Worker, Manager and Leader at different stages of my life. For far too long I was a Worker, but a very unhappy and unfulfilled Worker! Then I stepped out of my comfort zone, further and further, and now consider myself a Leader, and I am far happier and more comfortable here!

    In my personal relationship I think both my OH and I vary between the three – which I think is pretty healthy. We need to have a very strong relationship as we live very closely together 24/7!

    Thanks once again for making me think, Erica, great post!


    I guess

  6. I guess I would have to say that I don’t know which position I would be in. I don’t think about “relationships” that much. I tend to take people at face value and deal with them accordingly.

    For instance, I have a friend whose relationships with “friends” is terrible. I’m constantly asking him why he even deals with people that make him feel bad and take advantage of him all the time.

    Given that situation I wouldn’t make any attempt to work on the relationship. I’d just find people who would add good things to my life rather than make things worse for me.

    I think the main ingredients for a good relationship of any kind is tolerance and acceptance of the people you’re dealing with. If someone’s philosophy of life is so different than yours that it causes constant friction, you’ve got to decide whether it’s worth the time and effort to continue the association.

    • Dave,
      In general I might agree with you. But when it comes to intimate love relationships, we often choose someone who appears to be diametrically opposed to our way of thinking. But if we dig deeper, there is something in our early upbringing that may match this or we are just attracted to something different to help us expand our life view.

  7. In some instances I am each. It varies depending upon who I am interacting with and the perceived “hierarchy”. I have played worker bee, manager and leader. Much has to do with the choice I make in the relationship and the circumstance. If there is no movement in a situation that seems to be stagnant I will lead. If there is another who is clearly in charge I will support by managing. If there are plenty of managers and leaders I will be a worker, but probably only until I get the lay of the land and can step up. LOL!
    Thanks Dr. E!

    • Rick,
      Flexibility is a quality that is not much talked about but really essential. We can’t be a leader in every situation, at least not immediately. First you have to get the lay of the land, to feel your way and to determine what is really needed in any given situation. It is a pleasure to know you and to hear your perspective.



  8. Hi Erica,
    I went through many phases. I started out as a worker, became a manager and now I’m finally turning into a leader. It’s not easy as there are certain risks but I’ve never been happy working for others and following systems.
    Nothing compares to being a leader at something you love to do. This makes me wake up smiling in the morning. Sometimes you completely forget that you’re actually “working”, you just take it as “having fun”.
    Thanks for this great article,

    • George,
      Good for you. Going through the ranks, from worker to manager to leader helps you to be the best type of leader because you know internally what others might be thinking and feeling. It is fun to be in charge of our own life and our own business. When I’m not frustrated over some piece of technology, I am loving my private practice and my online world.

  9. While I know I show up as a leader in my personal and professional lives, reading these descriptions, I have to say I’m all 3 at different moments! And personally, I really think that’s a good thing. As a worker, I see myself developing task expertise and working independently ~ as a manager, I see myself planning, organizing, solving problems, budgeting and creating structure that people can follow ` and as a leader, I see myself defining the mission, finding the resources, taking risks, shaking things up, setting the tone and providing inspiration to get things done in the most fun and efficient way. πŸ™‚

    I do know I ENJOY the leadership role the most ~ the others get a little tedious and boring, but I know those jobs must get done. Thanks for an insightful post, Erica!

    • March 18th, 2011 at 1:47 am edit
      Seems as if you have true leadership qualities. You are willing to take on any role that is required but you prefer leading others.


  10. Hi Erica,

    What a great thought provoking post…thanks for sharing.

    I think that in order to truly relate to a business partner, co-worker or spouse, you need to have the flexibility and discipline to wear each of those hats at certain times. If you have paid your dues, then you have been an active participant in each of those phases at some point.

    I think it helps to shape you and make you more well rounded with a myriad of experiences that you can call on in any circumstance and with any group of people.

    Since I am very confident in my abilities, I have no problem assuming different roles at different times.

    In my marriage, we always have open lines of communication and there are times that my wife will take a more active role and at other times, I will. But, we work off of each others strengths and always support each others needs.

    In my work career, I am still on the day job and the need is for me to be an effective Manager who keeps a watchful eye on things, so that all goes smoothly, but when needed I can step into a Leadership role. I always prefer to be the decision maker, because I find that too many people make poor decisions and I have no problem with accountability or responsibility.

    In my Network Marketing career, I find myself evolving into a Leader. I am a continuous learner and I am always working to improve my personal development skills and learning to communicate better and be accountable. I understand the need for consistency and discipline and showing up on a daily basis.

    I have stepped out of my comfort zone and I enjoy the challenge of working as part of a collaborative effort to bring about change and create a better and stronger synergy for my business partners and myself. I love to provide solutions to problems and lead by example.

    But, since I am a part time Network Marketer and my time is limited, I don’t believe that I have put in the time to consider myself the Leader that I someday hope to be.

    But, I’m getting closer every day.

    To your massive success,
    P.S. I hope to watch your video on Edward’s site this weekend. Thanks for all the inspiration.

    • Marc,
      You are certainly the type of leader I would like to have leading me. Even in some mentoring programs I have experienced leaders who have high expectations without providing adequate learning ro support. They can and have, at times, deflated my enthusiasm and courage to take actions. Fortunately, it didn’t last too long.

  11. Hi Erica ~ I’m so glad I came across this post of yours because, as Marc noted above, it is very thought provoking (and I think that’s a good thing!) I especially appreciate how you took the information from John Maxwell and correlated it into how the same can be true in our personal relationships. Reading through your post made me stop and think about how I truly in, how I relate to others that I have relationships with, be it family, work or romantic. πŸ™‚ Christine

    • John Maxwell described the differences so clearly. I do have a tendency to take information I hear about business and find a way that it applies to relationships. By taking ideas from outside of the counseling or marriage counseling field, that creates a new understanding of the same issues, often about communication.


  12. Hi Erica,

    Nice post. Of course, every person is different and some people are more leader/manager/worker than others. Some have the ability to play different roles at different times. The key is to know the appropriate situation for being a leader and when to be a worker. Great article.

    • Gary,
      You are so right. Problems arise when someone becomes a leader and either acts like a manaer or a worker. Same in any other situation. It is essential to know what position you are in and what is the appropriate way to handle it.

  13. Thx for this new view point, Erica. Truely something to think about and to scale your relationships. For my perspective I tend more to be a manager to keep control, balance off and stay more in the comfort zone, at least that’s what I’m used to do. To take it to the next level I will start to challenge my self and bring some aspects of a leader role in when I see the opportunity. Thx again for this topic… Alex

    • Jodi,
      I love to take business concepts and apply them to personal relationships. That provides a new way to focus on whatever is going on. Having a broad perspective helps to improve communication and understanding and keep the love flowing.

  14. Hmm Erica – I’d have to say I see bits of each in myself too – both personally and professionally. The one I enjoy the most is the leadership role – but sometimes you just gotta roll up your sleeves ‘ya know?


  15. Hello Erica

    I consider myself to be a leaders base on these two qualities,
    (1)Creative risk taker: creates things, changes things and shakes things up.
    (2)Internal locus of control, observes the outside culture and creates new systems

    Change is exciting and love to be associated with change.


    Perry A Davis Jr
    Music City

  16. “merely a worker”???? Sounds condescending.
    Not everyone is a leader. Would anything get done without workers?
    All are important …

    • Yes Ed, All are important. It’s just that in an intimate relationship there may be a point when you need to take charge, stop letting the other person be “the boss” over important aspects of your life such as your health, your finances, your emotional responses.

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