Typical Roles, Responsibilities, and Competencies of People in Leadership Positions

A leader is someone who has the ability to influence others. They have an innate desire to help other people achieve their goals. Leaders can be found at all levels of an organization. Some leaders may be elected by the employees, while others may be appointed by management. Regardless of how they get promoted, leaders must possess certain qualities. Typical roles and competencies of leaders are grouped into three broad categories:

  • Self
    • Integrity / Honesty: A person with integrity does what they say that s/he will do. It means doing the right thing even when no one else is looking. This includes honesty, fairness, and respect for others.
    • Courage: Leaders dare to make hard decisions.
    • Clear Communication: Clear communication is essential for leaders because it helps them understand their followers' needs and desires. Without clear communication, a leader cannot effectively lead.
    • Flexibility: Leaders are able to correct or change the plan based on the current situation.
    • Creative/ Innovative: Creativity is not just about coming up with new ideas; it also involves being willing to adapt existing ideas and concepts into something different than what was originally intended.
  • Organization
    • Create a vision: Leaders set the direction for the team. They create a vision for where the company wants to go. When creating this vision, leaders should consider the long-term future of the business as well as its short-term goals.
    • Team building:  Leaders build teams.
    • Negotiation: Leaders need to negotiate with other people to reach common ground. They should be good listeners so they can hear both sides of the argument. 
    • Decision making: The best decision-makers are those who make decisions quickly but carefully. They weigh all options before choosing. 
    • Strategic Thinking: Leaders think strategically for the long-term outcomes rather than looking for quick or short-term returns.
  • People
    • Coaching: Leaders help employees develop through coaching and mentoring.
    • Conflict Management: Leaders resolve conflicts by listening, understanding, and empathizing. They encourage others to talk things out so they can come to an agreement.
    • Developing others: Leaders develop the team members to achieve bigger goals.
    • Motivation: Leaders motivate others by helping them overcome obstacles and challenges. They give positive feedback to motivate others.
    • Influencing: Leaders influence others by convincing them of the importance of something or someone. They persuade others to support their views or actions.

Becoming a Successful Leader:

The above list is not comprehensive of what every leader does in their job. It merely highlights some of the most critical roles that leaders play in any organization.

There's no magic formula for being a successful leader. Here are some of the actionable areas that can help you become a successful leader:

1) Be clear on your own values -- what do you stand for? What makes you happy? Do you enjoy working hard? Do you like to work alone or with others? Are you comfortable taking risks?

2) Know yourself -- Have you ever failed at anything? Can you handle criticism? If you don't know the answers to these questions, then ask yourself why you're interested in becoming a leader.

3) Create a plan -- take time to reflect on your strengths and weaknesses. Think about why you've chosen the career path you've chosen. Decide what you want to accomplish. And write it down! This will help keep you focused when times get tough.

4) Ask for advice -- speak to people who have already achieved success in your field. Find mentors to learn from. Read books written by great leaders. Listen to audio recordings of interviews with famous business leaders.

5) Set goals -- set big goals and break them into smaller goals along the way. Then set even smaller goals each day until you reach your ultimate goal.

6) Pay attention to detail -- as a leader, you must be able to complete tasks accurately and efficiently. You cannot afford to miss details.

7) Understand the system -- there are many systems within organizations. Every system has its own rules, processes, and regulations. Learn how all the different systems function together.

8) Always be ready to change -- good leadership skills require flexibility. Change is inevitable. The only question is whether it happens quickly or slowly.

9) Take responsibility -- as a leader, it is up to you to make sure everything goes smoothly. When bad things happen, accept full responsibility for them. Don't blame other people.

10) Speak often -- influential leaders communicate frequently with both employees and management. Keep everyone informed of current events and changes happening in the company. Share information, so everyone knows what is going on.

11) Avoid egocentric behaviour -- never think of yourself first. Put the needs of the group ahead of your own. Never let your personal feelings interfere with decision-making. And always remember that teamwork is crucial.

12) Make decisions -- as a leader, sometimes you'll have to make quick decisions based on incomplete data. As long as those decisions are right for the company, go ahead and make them.

13) Encourage others -- encourage teams, colleagues, managers, and subordinates. Give praise where it is due. Tell people they did well. Praise others when they deserve it.

14) Inspire loyalty -- inspire trust and respect among members of your team. Show them that you care about them and their opinions. Motivate your workers by praising them and thanking them for their efforts.

15) Manage resources effectively -- use your existing resources wisely. Hire the best people for the jobs available. Treat every person fairly and equally.

16) Develop new ideas -- come up with innovative solutions to problems—Challenge old ways of doing things. Come up with creative solutions for common issues.

17) Engage in conflict resolution -- if you can resolve conflicts before they become significant problems, you'll save a lot of money and effort. Conflict resolution requires skill and tact. Use diplomacy whenever possible. Try asking questions to help understand another point of view.

18) Be honest -- tell people the truth. If something isn't working, tell people. If you're not happy, tell someone. It's essential to be open and transparent with your co-workers.

19) Keep an eye out for trends -- keep abreast of the latest developments in your field. Know what is happening around you. Become familiar with emerging technologies.

20) Stay positive -- look for the silver lining in any situation. Look for opportunities rather than focusing on problems. If things aren't going well, find out why.

21) Create a work environment conducive to success -- create an atmosphere in which people feel comfortable sharing ideas. Involve your employees in decision-making. Set clear goals and deadlines. Provide constructive feedback.

22) Have fun -- play games, laugh, and enjoy life.