What is your role as a leader of a group, team or organisation?


What is your role as a leader of a group, team or organisation?
Have you ever asked yourself this question? Not long ago, I was introduced to a book by Esther Cameroon, someone I knew and met a few years ago when I was in Netherlands as part of a team of people facilitating a leadership conference.
The book is called "Making sense of Leadership - exploring the five key roles used by effective leaders" Esther coauthored the book with a colleague of hers, Mike Green.

When I first read it, I didn't really have much insights until recently, when I heard a speech made by the outgoing CEO of the company where I'm currently working. The outgoing CEO talked about leadership and made a remark which I interpret to be this: the leaders in the company (i.e business heads and their people) need to be less facilitative and more directive. It doesn't mean command and control; you listen, but after listening you say this is what I think we should do, and we will do this. Then get people onboard to the decision that you favour. It sounds to me that the outgoing CEO wanted to put emphasis on execution. Don't spend too much time deciding, debating - just do it, according to what the leader decides.

Leadership roles
Leadership roles

 Is this what leadership is about, I asked myself? Should all leaders be like what the outgoing CEO was advocating? I personally don't think so because everyone has his or her own style of leadership - directive is not the only style and may not work in all situations. But maybe this is what the company needs now, a more directive style of leadership, and less consensus driven.

I picked up Esther's book and started to read again. The central idea in the book is about leadership roles - that was what was different about it. I appreciated the mini literature review the authors did on the leadership literature out there - from Blake and Mouton's task vs people focused leaders to Goleman's 6 leadership styles . Nobody (at least as far I know) has framed leadership in terms of the different roles leaders play.

There are 5 of them:
1. Edgy catalyser
2. Visionary Motivator
3. Measured connector
4. Tenacious Implementer
5. Thoughtful architect

A leaders uses a combination of the five of them, but to varying degrees depending on the situation. In the case of the company I work in, the emphasis from the outgoing CEO was for leaders to up their focus on no 4, tenacious implementer, to focus on execution and implementation.

Where does leadership styles fit into this? Leadership styles is about how a leader leads. It's about how he/she is perceived by others in the way he/she leads. Is he/she more authoritative or is he/she more democratic? If I use Goleman's 6 leadership styles model as the example model for leadership styles, there are 6 of them: Coercive, authoritative, affiliative, democratic, pacesetting and coaching. Leaders use all 6 styles.
I think leadership roles in Esther's conceptualisation is a blend of the "what and how" a leader leads. What refers to what the leader primarily focus on and how is how the leader leads (i.e. leadership style). A tenacious implementer focuses on getting things done (there is bias on action and speed) and the style the leader employs is likely authoritative, coercive and/or pacesetting sometimes.

The question that I had at the begining was: What is your role as a leader of a group, team or organisation? Aside from the technical or functional role of the job itself, the concept of leader roles by Esther and Mike provides an additional frame to view leadership, i.e. what a leader focuses on and how the leader goes about accomplishing the "what".

Does this raise any questions for you? Please feel free to leave your your views and comments below!

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Jason Matthews profile image

Jason Matthews 2 years ago from North Carolina

This is a great hub for leadership training and development. Thanks for sharing and voted up!

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