Five Roles a Leader Needs to Play

    It goes without saying that organizational leaders wear many hats and play many a role in leading the strategic direction of an organization. In this complex and ever-changing business environment, effective leaders need to fulfill their roles in ways that will provide the right guidance to those they lead.

    Though challenging to consistently maintain, these essential roles are the attributes needed by, and expected of, effective business leaders. Such roles can be implemented regardless of the organizational size, the type of industry, or whether the business is public or private. They are not imbued by default and need to be actively learned, continuously developed and consistently practiced.

    Here are the five important roles that a leader must play:

    1. Communicator: The most effective leaders use all levels of communication to reach out to staff, customers/clients and other stakeholders. They proactively encourage the exchange of information within the organization. All communication whether verbal, written or online communicates consistency and clearly defines what the organization stands for. Successful leaders develop the art of selecting personal communication styles that are open, honest, fair and appropriate to the different situations and audiences. These leaders have also developed the skill of actively listening to others, including those with opposing views. They carefully and thoughtfully make course corrections as the need arises.

    2. Thinker: Strategic thinking requires that an effective leader do the following:

    • understand how the different functions of the organization work together and how it can best respond to external and internal changes;

    • learn the strengths and weaknesses of the organization, and the opportunities and threats facing it;

    • understand how the strategic objectives are influenced by current and future business and economic forecasts;

    • recognize that the operational objectives and targets must be in line with and support the strategic objectives of the organization; and

    • be aware of and respond to the behavior of current and potential competitors.

    3. Decision-maker: Developing a consistent approach to the analysis of information is imperative to effective decision-making. In making important decisions and prior to implementation, the leader must consider the impact of such choices on all stakeholders. Drawing on one’s business knowledge and experience as well as the knowledge of the collective team will help the organization to identify current and potential problems. It will also provide the platform on which to study a range of solutions before selecting the final one, thus making sure that the selected decisions fit within organization’s mission and goals.

    4. Team-builder: Effective team-building rests upon ensuring that individuals and teams are kept informed of plans, developments and issues that will affect them and the way they do their job. Team-building helps its members to understand and meaningfully contribute to the organization’s strategic goals. It also requires an appreciation for contributions made at all organizational levels. Team members must also be confident that individual and team efforts will be fairly reviewed and recognized as appropriate. An effective team-builder empowers team members to excel and provides appropriate support and timely feedback that will support employee initiative.

    5. Image-builder: A consistent demonstration of fairness, integrity and professionalism builds the kind of image that supports professional achievement and employee support. These characteristics must also work in tandem with being open-minded and responsive to, and supportive of, the needs of individuals as well as the team. When an organization strives to institute an effective organizational culture and demands high standards across the board, an extraordinary level of performance results. Adopting an ethical approach to business and personal dealings set the stage for trust, credibility and influence among peers as well as team members.

    Elaine B Greaves Esq. is president and CEO of Season to Success Inc. in Beachwood, Ohio, and radio host of “Leadership Talk with Elaine B. Greaves.” She can be reached at [email protected].

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    Richard Blanchard
    Rick is the Managing Editor of Corp! magazine. He has worked in reporting and editing roles at the Port Huron Times Herald, Lansing State Journal and The Detroit News, where he was most recently assistant business editor. A native of Michigan, Richard also worked in Washington state as a reporter, photographer and editor at the Anacortes American. He received a bachelor of arts from the University of Michigan and a master’s in accountancy from the University of Phoenix.