7 Foundational Roles of a Leader (Pt.1)

Leadership Roles

There are at least 7 foundational roles you will need to implement if you want to be an effective and successful leader. They include: leading, managing, concentrating on the vision, training your people, building a strong team, cultivating the environment, and delivering results. Every leader should learn about and focus on these roles. Let’s dive into the first 3 roles:

1. Leading

The most important role of a leader is to proactively lead. This seems like common sense but many official leaders can easily take on a reactive role where they don’t take charge, action, or the lead. Either because they become complacent with their current reality or fear failure or the unknown. To be successful in leadership you must always be leading and moving forward. To use your skills and influence to initiate growth, change, and create a positive impact with those you lead and your clients or customers. If you’re a leader make sure you are effectively leading. The other roles listed below will come together if you first focus on proactively leading.

2. Managing

To become a great leader you must take on the role of a manager. Let’s look at the differences between the roles of a leader and manager:

Leader- A leader is someone who leads others with influence. They influence others to see and purse a better tomorrow by having a clear vision and obtainable goals. Dwight D. Eisenhower said this about what a leader does, “Leadership: the art of getting someone else to do something that you want done because he wants to do it.”

Manager- A manager is someone who is in control of a working function to allow it to continue working well. It might be managing a team, project, a section of an organization or an entire organization. Henri Fayol said this about what a manager does, “To manage is to forecast and to plan, to organize, to command, to co-ordinate and to control.” The essential role of a manager is to make sure all elements of the organization is proficiently, properly, and effectively working.

Your role as a leader is to implement managing skills into your leadership.

3. Concentrating on the vision

Leaders must have a clear vision of the future and regularly communicate it to the team. A good vision is similar to a roadmap. It clearly shows what and where you want your team and organization to do in both the short and long term. Father Theodore Hesburgh said, “The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion.”

This is why leaders need to become ambassadors of the vision. They must be certain their example, decisions, and what they communicate reflect the vision. It’s essential to remember you will not be able to over communicate or broadcast the vision.There is an undeniable truth about vision, it leaks, so leaders need to make sure you are placing visual representations of it and communicating it whenever possible. When your people know and buy into your vision it fuels productivity levels and results which causes the organization to move closer to the vision. Ronald Regan said, “To grasp and hold a vision, that is the very essence of successful leadership—not only on the movie set where I learned it, but everywhere.”

Question: Can you add to the list? What are some other foundational roles of a leader?

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  • For me, having a good “manager” is a good leader. Too many think they can get by with just making decisions…but managing means those decisions are based on sound thinking and processing of information and data, and then decisions are properly made.

    • I totally agree, it’s all about having leadership skills and management skills. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

  • DS

    The Culture Engine by S. Chris Edmonds also holds vision as something critical, and I’m glad to see it on your list. People have to know where they are going.

    • It’s an important one:) Thank you for reading and commenting.

      Also, I’ll have to check out the book:)

  • Great principles yet again. I also love when leaders are able to coach and teach.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed them:) Thank you for reading and adding to the discussion.

  • Kevin

    In case we missed it, “purpose” is a definite priority for anyone considering leadership. Purpose
    is the very reason why a leader and/or it’s followers exist. Kevin McCarthy makes this crystal clear.
    It helps answer the questions: Who am I? and Why do I exist? In effect it clarifies your reason for being
    in just two-words: for example, “clarifying leadership.” Kevin shows how the complete statement, with a generic beginning would be “I exist to serve by “clarifying leadership.” If it’s a group it would change to “We exist to serve by clarifying leadership.” It’s the purpose that will uniquely stimulate our vision, which is a mental picture of where we see ourselves going. Thereby sets us up with specific things we must do , missions, to make the vision come to life. So the leader must be clear that the words purpose, vision, and mission are not synonyms. Purpose is about our being, vision is about our seeing, with the minds eye, and missions are about our doing, with our hands/feet.
    I hope this helps. We all aim to grow by “advancing leadership.” Let’s focus on-purpose.

    • Hi Kevin,

      Great thoughts! Purpose is essential.