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Leadership Role Playing

What is the role of the Leader?

Few of us are born to lead. Yet most of us will need to lead some group or organization, at some time. Leadership is a role most of us will need to play.

Frequently, leadership is a role that we discover we need to assume when we agree to do some other task or job.

We may need to lead a group, project team, department, or even a whole organization. We may lead a family, club, association or a whole community.

Our leadership role may be formally sanctioned or we may have no actual authority, just a group of followers.

The context in which we lead doesn't matter. When we assume a leadership role we have a part to play in shaping the future, or at least some part of it, and a number of important principles apply.

First, the leadership role is different to management. Often good leaders are also good managers. But the leadership role is not the same as the management role, even when the same person plays them both, and the two should not be confused.

The management role is based on authority while leadership is built on relationships. Where the management role involves responsibility for command and control, the leadership role relies on influence and inspiration for consent.

The primary leadership role includes establishing strategic vision, values and direction setting while the management role concentrates on planning, resource allocation and budget to deliver the vision.

Both leadership and management are important, but at different times and in different situations. The best leaders know when to assume which role - when to manage and when to lead - and they are comfortable moving in and out of the leadership role as required.

Second, leadership skills can be learnt. You do not need to learn these skills the hard way, on your own. Once you develop your leadership skills, assuming any leadership role is much easier, and more effective.

Attend a leadership seminar or read some good leadership books. See details of the online courses in our Members Area and sign up for some of the courses available to members. Participate in the Leadership Forum and ask for advice or a pose a question of other members of the Forum. There are many opportunities available to develop your leadership skills.

And finally, just as all good actors make the roles they play their own, you must play your leadership role in a way that is uniquely you. I believe Leadership Integrity is about being the best you can be and bringing who you are to what you do. This is the most important role you can ever play.

(More ideas on playing a leadership role in the Quick Tips below.)


"Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else."

Judy Garland (1922-1969)


Mature teams and organizations share the leadership role according to who will be best in any particular situation or circumstances.

If you view leadership as a role you can happily and productively continue contributing to a team in other ways when someone else takes over the leadership role from you.

If you view leadership as part of your identity or personal power base, rather than as a role you sometimes assume, you run the risk of clinging to leadership beyond your capacity to contribute value. Don't let this happen to you.

Taking personal action on your leadership roles:

  • Make a list of all the roles that you play in each of the different areas of your life.
  • Highlight the five roles that are most important to you.
  • Are the five roles you have highlighted the roles where you consistently invest most of your time?
  • Are there things you need to do more of?
  • Are there things you need to do less of?

What actions will you take?

And remember, you don't have to do all this on your own. The best thing you can do is join my next Leadership Coaching Club. As a leadership specialist I've shown hundreds of leaders around the world how to develop all the skills they need to mentor, manage and lead. I can do the same for you, wherever you are located.

You will find details of the Leadership Coaching Club by clicking here.


Copyright © Kerrie Mullins-Gunst

Kerrie Mullins-Gunst is an expert in all the knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours you need to mentor, manage and lead your people, and one of Australia's leading mentors, planning facilitators and female business speakers. For your free Top Leadership Tips Workbook and other resources or to listen to her podcast, visit http://leadershipskillcenter.com or call her on 61-3-9859 3924.

This article is copyright, but permission will usually be given to reproduce it if requested, provided a notice such as that above is included. Contact us to request permission.

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