The leader of an organization has many responsibilities, but perhaps the most important is ensuring that the right people are in the right roles to carry out the needs of the organization so it can thrive. This role clarity cannot be overemphasized.
“Managers do things right. Leaders do the right things.” This quote is attributed to the great organizational consultant and author Warren G. Bennis. It is ultimately about leadership doing the right things, but also making a distinction between managing a process and leading people.
Managers are those who carry out right things. If they are asked to do the wrong things, then it really doesn’t matter if they do them right or not. The best organizations recognize that when a manager pushes back on doing what is perceived as the wrong things, it’s not necessarily a sign of insubordination. It can signal misunderstanding, insufficient communication or a lack of confidence in a leader.
Leaders need not only do the right things, but they also need to ensure that their people are clear in their understanding and responsibility to execute these things in the right way. This means fully knowing why these are the right things. Unless the leader is in a command-and-control situation like the military, it is necessary to bring people along to ensure they fully believe you are doing the right things.
Getting this clarity regarding the role every person plays is vital, and this is especially important when leading teams.
“If you are the leader, you can decide the role you want to play and the role you want your team to play,” says Mark Miller, author of Smart Leadership: Four Simple Choices to Scale Your Impact. “But you need to decide.”
Miller distinguishes between what he suggests are a leader’s role versus a leadership team’s role.
|Leader’s Role Leadership Team’s Role
|Provide vision Communicate vision
|Establish values Enforce the core values
|Set goals Manage the day-to-day activities
|Endorse core strategies Identify and solve problems
|Provide resources Lift and maintain engagement
|Provide encouragement Train and equip team members
|Invest in leaders Develop next generation leaders
|Establish boundaries Provide accountability
|Clarify roles Improve performance
As the leader, it is your responsibility to ensure there is clarity in the roles. If not, this impacts performance, and will undermine every leadership initiative.
“Don’t miss the big idea here—regardless of who does what, be clear and explicit,” says Miller. “The absence of role clarity is not a team failure—it is a leadership failure.”
Get clarity regarding your role and the role of your people in order to ensure your organization thrives.