What is the role of the leader?

Well, you have either been hired to be a leader in your organization, or you just figured out – that to be successful – you need to be a leader. Either way, if you are to grow into the leadership role you know you can and should be in, the first questions should be, “What is the role of the leader? What should I be doing?”
In the traditional organizational structure, the leader was typically the manager, in charge of directing resources to specific assignments, deciding daily goals and priorities, tracking progress, completing reports and paperwork, running meetings, and maintaining discipline and order.

In other instances, the leader was the person with the greatest technical knowledge and proficiency. Leadership and management training was geared for this. They were sought out for expertise, abilities to diagnose problems using analytically skills, they possessed superior troubleshooting and problem-solving abilities, they enjoyed putting out fires, and made quick decisions.

Those attributes of the traditional leader still hold true today, however, there is so much more required for today’s leader to be successful. When taking on the leadership role, think about the following attributes as well.

You must be able to analyze the organizational environment for trends and changes, clearly articulate a vision for the future, translate vision into objectives, be able to enforce simple boundaries, make connections with people outside the organization, encourage risk-taking and innovation, architect standards and document processes and procedures, align systems to strategies and vision, challenge practices that are not consistent with the core philosophy, reinforces positive cultural norms, meet with others to learn new procedures for operations.

You must also be able to coach the people whom you lead. Just being the “boss” is not good enough to be a leader. You must set standards for behavior and performance, empower people to make decisions and solve problems, provide information in training, evaluate and help individuals grow in their abilities, act as a mentor, and conduct performance evaluations in order to help growth, not punishment.

All in all, the roles of a great leader have not changed, they have just been studied and documented. Just as your role will include continuous process improvement, your leadership skills will require the same. The difference being, now you have a roadmap to get you there.

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