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The Main Elements and Functions of a Leader

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The words “leader” and “leadership” are often used wrongly to describe people who are actually managing. These people may be highly skilled, good at their jobs, and valuable to their organizations – but that just makes them excellent managers, not leaders. Leadership can be hard to define and it means different things to different people. In the leadership model, leaders set direction and help themselves and others to do the right thing to move forward. To do this they create a very interesting/intelligent vision, and then inspire others to reach that vision. They also manage delivery of the vision, either directly orindirectly, and build and coach their teams to make them ever stronger. Effective leadership is about all of this – and it’s exciting to be part of this trip!


According to the idea of (something big and important that changes people’s thinking or lives)leadership, an effective leader is a person who does the following:

  1. Creates a very interesting/intelligent vision of the future.
  2. Motivates and inspires people to engage with that vision.
  3. Manages delivery of the vision.
  4. Coaches and builds a team, so that it is more effective at accomplishing the vision.

Leadership brings together the skills needed to do these things. We’ll look at each element in more detail.

Creating an Inspiring Vision of the Future

In business, a vision is a realistic, convincing and attractive drawing (or description) of where youwant to be in the future. Vision provides direction, sets (things that are the most important), andprovides a marker, so that you can tell that you’ve (accomplished or gained with effort) what youwanted to (accomplish or gain with effort). To create a vision, leaders focus on an organization’s strengths by using tools such as Porter’s Five Forces, PEST Analysis, USP Analysis, Core Smart ability Analysis and SWOT Analysis tocarefully study their current situation. They think about how their industry is likely to change (and get better), and how their competitors are likely to behave. They look at how they can create something new successfully, and shape their businesses and their (success plans/ways of reaching goals) to succeed in future. And they test their visionswith appropriate market research, and by testing/evaluating key risks using ways of doing thingssuch as Picture/situation Analysis. Therefore, leadership is – problem solving, looking ahead, and not being made happy (by meeting a need or reaching a goal) with things asthey are. Once they have developed their visions, leaders must make them forcing/forceful/interesting andconvincing. A forcing/forceful/interesting vision is one that people can see, feel, understand, andhug/support. Effective leaders provide a rich picture of what the future will look like when theirvisions have happened/been made real.

Motivating and Inspiring People

A forcing/forceful/interesting vision provides the foundation for leadership. But its leaders’ ability to (give a reason to do something) and inspire people that helps them deliver that vision. For example, when you start a new project, you will probably have lots of excited interest (in something) for it, so it’s often easy to win support for it at the beginning. However, it can be very hard to find ways to keep your vision motivating/bringing about after the first excited interest (in something) fades, especially if the team or organization needs to make big changes in the waythat it does things. Leaders recognize this, and they work hard throughout the project to connecttheir vision with people’s individual needs, goals and wishes. One of the key ways they do this is through Expectancy Explanation (of why something works or happens the way it does). Effective leaders link together two different expectations:

a. The expectation that hard work leads to good results.

b. The expectation that good results lead to attractive rewards or (rewards or reasons for doing something).

This gives a reason to people to work hard to success, because they expect to enjoy rewards – both built-in and not built-in – as a result. Other approaches include the vision in terms of the benefits it will bring to theteam’s customers, and taking frequent opportunities to communicate the vision in an attractiveand engaging way. What’s especially helpful here is when leaders have expert power. People like and respect andbelieve in these leaders because they are expert in what they do.

Managing Delivery of the Vision

This is the area of leadership that relates to management. Leaders must secure/make sure of that the work needed to deliver the vision is properlymanaged – either by themselves, or by a dedicated manager or team of managers to whom theleader people (who do things for other people) this responsibility – and they need to make sure that their vision is delivered successfully. To do this, team members need performance goals that are linked to the team’s overall vision. Our article on Performance Management and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) explains oneway of doing this, and our Project Management section explains another. And, for day-to-daymanagement of delivering the vision, the Management By Wandering Around (MBWA) approachhelps to make sure that what should happen, really happens. Leaders also need to make sure they manage change effectively. This helps to make sure that thechanges needed to deliver the vision are used smoothly and completely, with the support andsupport of the people affected.

Coaching and Building a Team to Achieve the Vision

Individual and team development are important activities carried out by leaders. To develop a team, leaders must firstunderstand team patterns. And popular models describe this, such as Belbin’s TeamRoles approach, and Bruce Tuckman’s Forming, Storming, Norming, and Singing. A leader will then secure/make sure of that team members have the necessary skills and abilitiesto do their job and accomplish the vision. They do this by giving and receiving reactions regularly, and by trainingand coaching people to improve individual and team performance. Leadership also includes looking for leadership (possible greatness or power) in others. Bydeveloping leadership skills within your team, you create a surrounding condition where youcan continue success over a long time. And that’s a true measure of great leadership.

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