The 3 most important responsibilities of a leader and why you can’t meet them all

Should a leader be out in front charting the way forward? Should they be magnetic personalities who immediately change the temperature of the room they walk into? Should they be a great developer of others? Or do leaders simply get paid to make decisions? The truth is, there are three key responsibilities of leaders and unfortunately leaders are usually good at one of these…NOT all of them.


1. Define your Current Reality

Managers are best at knowing what reality is. They’re the ones on the front line living it everyday. The downside is Managers are slow at implementing change and get stuck implementing one step, not to mention the others still to come in the process. Managers confuse activity with productivity.

2. Dream a Preferred Future

Visionaries see the future before anyone else, and they typically want to get there…yesterday. Frequently visionaries are guilty of making change too fast and take too little steps to get there. As a result the organization suffers because it can’t sustain the pace. Visionaries confuse creativity with productivity.

3. Design a Pathway to get there

Implementers know how to get the organization from here to there. Most of the time they naturally have a tolerable middle of the road pace for change. Unfortunately they also tend to create too many steps to get to a preferred future. Implementers confuse process with productivity.

What I’m not saying, is that any of these are more or less desirable than the other. This isn’t a better or worse than conversation. It takes different kinds of leaders to lead at different times and in different roles in the organization. It takes all three, and that’s why we’re always better together.


Which one of these do you naturally drift towards as a leader?

Posted in Leadership

2 Responses to “The 3 most important responsibilities of a leader and why you can’t meet them all”

  1. David August 23, 2011 at 6:42 am #

    Paul, not sure it’s one or the other although people may tend towards a certain type. Good leaders I think will keep in mind all three aspects as they lead in what they do.

    If we define leadership as getting from point A to point B then the better leaders in my mind have to look across the organization taking into account the three aspects you listed. If not they & the organization suffers.

    There is always more to the story…


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