The Three Main Jobs of a Leader (part 1 of 3)

By Tom Davidson

As a leader, there are certain jobs that only you can do! The future of your team starts with you. Here are some steps to make sure it all goes in the right direction! 

As a manager, you’re responsible for numbers and things (i.e., budgets, goals and reports), but as a leader, you’re responsible for the human side of the business (i.e., performance, teamwork and culture). As a result, there are three jobs that only you can do for your team; they cannot be delegated:

Communicating the vision – Painting a clear and compelling picture of what your unit will look like in the future
Role-modeling what you want from others – Exemplifying the demeanor and behaviors you want to see in others
Coaching the team and individuals – Maximizing the discretionary effort of the people on your team

Creating your vision
Creating and communicating a vision is not just the job of the chief executive officer, president or general manager. No matter what level lead, you are responsible for having a vision for the future of your part of the larger organization because

• Team leaders create the climate for their work teams.
• Department heads shape the future for their functional areas.
• First-line supervisors form the culture of their shifts.

A “vision” is a memorable and compelling picture of how you want your group to be operating in the future; developing it and conveying it to others so that they share it is the most important role of a leader. Nobody else is responsible for this but you. Do the following, no matter what size or level your team:

    1. Imagine what the ideal team would look like in the future.
      1. How will the people on your team be acting towards customers, other teams, and each other?
      2. What will they be saying to each other on a daily basis?
      3. How will they be solving problems and celebrating successes?
      4. What will they do in emergencies, not just day-to-day operations?
      5. What behaviors would you see that would tell you they are living the vision?
    2. Write down the key behaviors you envisioned.
      1. Make a bulleted list of the key behaviors you would expect to see when your vision is a reality.
      2. Keep your list to fewer than 10 key behaviors so that they are measurable and not overwhelming in number.
      3. Give detailed examples of each behavior so other people can envision them as clearly as you and there is no mistaking what you mean.
    3. Have an informed confidant review the list to see if it is truly behavioral in nature before you share it with your team.
      1. To keep the list from including attitudes, would an outside observer be able to see the behaviors?
      2. Could people score to what degree the behaviors are being observed?
      3. If you asked someone to do more or less of one item, could they do it if they were trained and wanted to do them?

Communicating your vision
Once you have crafted your vision and it’s ready for public consumption

1. Share it with your supervisors to make sure it is in alignment with theirs. Part of your job as a leader is to carry the vision of the larger organization forward, so while your vision may differ somewhat to fit your particular part of the organization, it has to be in alignment with the overall organization.
2. Share it with your team, framing it as your vision initially but one you would like to be a theirs as well. You should be able to speak extraneously about each of the points of your vision, not just reading them, explaining them in your own words and answering clarifying questions.
3. Adapt the vision to some extent reflecting their personal wishes for a desired future state, thus getting their fingerprints on it and making it a shared vision.

The future of your team starts with you. Make it clear, compelling and shared so that it is likely to happen on purpose, not by accident.

What other steps have you seen that have been positive or negative examples of how a vision is created and communicated?

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