Are You A Leader or A Manager?

Written by Dr. Cathy Grace, Senior Director of Affiliate Relations & Partnerships

The line between being a leader and a manager often becomes blurred since early care and education professionals “wear” many hats!  It can be exhausting to do one, much less two or more jobs within a program serving infants through school age children and their parents. Time management is the key to keeping sane and accomplishing goals set for yourself and program. The following self-assessment questions are for consideration if you want to move more into daily leadership and less consumed with managerial duties.

1. Do you have a long range plan for yourself and/or your program with measureable short-term objectives to meet and guide your progress? Do you involve staff in developing and evaluating it?

2. Do you believe in building a team to accomplish your goals or are you “calling” all the shots?

3. Do you have a rule that will control the type and number of personal non-essential text messages and calls from family and friends you answer during the day?

4. Have you done a time management study so you can determine the amount of time that you “waste” off task during the day? (You will be amazed!)

5. Does your staff share your vision of the goal(s) of your program? Do they know the goal(s)?

6. Do you have written procedures for staff to follow and are they held accountable for following them?

7. Do you reinforce staff who do a good job by letting them know you are watching and are appreciative of their work?

8. Could your program run as effectively as when you are there if you were called away for a week due to an emergency?

9. Are parents given opportunities routinely to engage with you and staff to provide ideas that would lead to improved practices?

10. Do you make time to read updated material from professional early childhood associations and research organizations at least one hour a week?

11. Do you spend more time “putting out fires” or reviewing and implementing strategies that will improve the quality of the program? Why?

Keep in mind that the size of a program and other potential factors such as the state child care licensing regulations will impact how some of the tips are used.

More leadership resources including past issues of The Leadership Letter are available on the SECA website by clicking HERE





2 thoughts on “Are You A Leader or A Manager?

  1. This is great information to reflect on! I wonder if answers would be the same if one surveyed workers and parents within a program???

  2. Sometimes leaders think that they NEED to call all the shots. They get intimidated by hearing the thoughts and ideas of others. Some think they look weak if they don’t have all of the ideas or all of the answers. The importance of “team” sometimes gets lost on those new to leadership positions. Working as a team is essential to good leadership. Always be aware of what your team is thinking and saying . Listen, listen, listen…..twice as much as you talk. And always be willing to empower others by “hearing” what they have to say

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