Published here May 2007.


Musings Index

The Role of a Leader

I recently received this Email notification from a Larry McAlister ( on The Role of a Leader

November 9, 2006 SPARTA, NJ

Most leaders are waiting to be told what to do. Most leaders are operating at least one level below their position. Most leaders want to make things more complicated, simplicity is not valued. Leaders do not think, or act like they are running a business. Leaders can easily point out problems with other groups but have trouble critiquing their own operation.

These are observations of Rich Fredricksen, principal of the execution consulting firm, PaivaFredricksen Group who says "defining the role of leaders throughout your organization is key to running a great company. A focus on execution that cascades throughout leadership at all levels of an organization is what transitions strategy into results."

Through his company's StrongLeader Execution System, Fredricksen empowers leaders with a "Leaders Daily Dozen" that not only helps define roles but provides a system of applied leadership. "People struggle with the concept of translating leadership from classroom to boardroom," said Fredricksen, "by doing these 12 actions everyday, you will become a better leader."
  1. Set the Example: Practice my values and the values of the organization, have a positive attitude and create a climate of integrity.
  2. Communicate: Plan my communications, listen well and select the best medium for communicating.
  3. Provide Clarity: Give clear, well understood instructions and be unambiguous in my vision and goals for the group.
  4. Take Action: Create a sense of urgency, accomplish tasks that move the group forward and take accountability.
  5. Measure: Know what metrics drive performance, quantify my group's performance and use metrics to understand and improve.
  6. Simplify: Sort through the complexity of situations, remove obstacles and focus on the critical issues. Reduce churn.
  7. Manage Risk: Consider what is around the corner, build risk management into all my groups' activities.
  8. Reward Success: Reward the efforts and successes of my people, acknowledge positives and don't just manage the negatives.
  9. Develop Leaders: Support my people to be successful, challenge and trust my people. Take all opportunities to teach.
  10. Create Ownership: Generate commitment from the group, help my people understand "Why" and let them participate in the planning of tasks.
  11. Deliver Results: Lead for results and continuous improvement (performance matters).
  12. Think: Make time to think and reflect. Understand the situation beyond my perspective.

"Unfocused 'churn' is not the goal, rather a thoroughly conceived plan to accomplish the aligned objectives of the department or company," said Fredricksen. "The role of the leader is to develop that plan, gain alignment, and manage their people and stakeholders to achieve a plan as if it's their own company."

Most leaders are waiting to be told what to do - are yours?

Then I thought, isn't that what project managers are supposed to do?

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