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What do leaders do?

For many people who simply observe leaders in action, the key question is often 'what do leaders actually do?"

Each leader has their own personality and leadership style. And it is important to recognise that there isn't one leadership style which is right or better than another. Wise and effective leaders adopt the leadership style which best suits their own character; and the needs of their organisation and the people they are leading.

Even so, regardless of personality and style - which will vary from individual to individual - effective leaders have in common certain specific functions and tasks.

Planning, initiating, controlling, supporting, informing and evaluating.
Also see the High Performance Teams workbook which forms part of the diploma programme.

John Adair has suggested that the six key leadership functions are:

1. Planning
2. Initiating
3. Controlling
4. Supporting
5. Informing
6. Evaluating

Leaders plan


* seek all available information
* define group task, purpose or goal
* make a workable plan

Leaders initiate

* brief the group on the aims and the plan
* explain why the aim or plan is necessary
* allocate tasks to group members
* set group standards

Leaders control

* maintain group standards
* influence tempo
* ensure all actions are taken towards meeting objectives
* keep discussion relevant
* prod the group to take action/make a decision

Leaders support

* express acceptance of people and their contribution
* encourage the group/individuals
* discipline the group/individuals
* create team spirit
* relieve tension with humour
* reconcile disagreements or get others to explore them

Leaders inform

* clarify the task and the plan
* give new information to the group (to keep them in the picture)
* receive information from the group
* summarise suggestions and ideas coherently

Leaders evaluate

* check the feasibility of an idea
* test the consequences of a proposed solution
* evaluate the group's performance
* help the group to evaluate its own performance against standards

Effective leaders:

* create a vision
* develop plans and strategies
* define standards
* set:
- priorities
- objectives
- goals
* encourage excellence
* establish responsibility and accountability
* promote communication and disseminate information
* make the best use of resources - including time and people
* lead from the front and set and example
* motivate others to unite and work together to achieve a common goal.

Excerpts from The University of Leicester Diploma in Management Resource Development International (RDI) Jamaica.
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