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Understand The Role You Play In Leadership

By Lisa Woods (792 words)
Posted in Leadership & Teambuilding on June 21, 2012

There are (13) comments permalink

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A True Leader Knows There Is No Right Answer….and finds strength in that.

There are many traits that define leadership, but one that stands out is the ability to know there is no right way of doing something.  When at a crossroads with a choice of going straight, left, right, staying put or turning around…how do you make that decision?  Do you see all of your options?  Do you get overwhelmed? Is one choice better than the other?  Is one right and are the others wrong?


A true leader is comfortable making a decision on which direction to take because they understand the result of their decision is based on what they do after making it.  They are inspired by endless possibilities, not overwhelmed by them. By determining what to do along the path, and following through, a leader believes the risk is mitigated and the reward is achievable. 


So how do leaders know which direction is the best direction?  They don’t!  But they educate themselves to be able to make decisions they can manage.  Their ability to quickly acquire, filter and disseminate information is a key component to their decision-making ability…then they jump in.


What role do you play in leadership? (click here to participate in our survey)

  • Are you an informant? - Part of the group of people collecting and providing information to be able to make informed decisions.
  • Are you a manager? – Part of the group entrusted to implement and oversee the actions needed to achieve success.
  • Are you a leader? – The one who envisions the path forward.


No matter which role you play in leadership, appreciate the fact that one does not function well without the others.  Finding the place where you are best suited gives you and your organization an advantage and opens the door for your role to change throughout your career.

Here are some other traits that define a true leader.  How many of them define you?

  • The ability to visualize where you want to go…and see yourself there.
  • The desire to have others follow your lead.
  • The ability to define what others must accomplish along the way in order to achieve your goals.
  • The courage to stand up for what you need and push back on the things/people that interfere.
  • The confidence to be open minded to new information no matter when it comes…seeking it out at all times.
  • The flexibility to change direction when needed.
  • The charisma to engage and empower others to believe in your vision and in you.
  • The restraint to think before reacting…and the ability to consider all the moving parts your actions will impact.
  • The ability to make fast and impactful decisions.
  • The foresight to choose the right managers to oversee and drive progress.
  • The intuition to develop a trusted circle of qualified informants to enable educated and informed decisions.
  • The knowledge that There Is No Right Answer….and finding strength in that.


Can you name other traits that define a true leader? Click here to participate in This Week's Discussion.


I hope this perspective is helpful to you in your day-to-day life.  Test out these concepts and share your results with us.  Others can benefit from your experiences.  Good luck!


Written by Lisa WoodsPresident ManagingAmericans.com

Lisa is a successful entrepreneur, world-class marketing strategist, and dynamic business leader with more than 20 years experience leading, managing and driving growth. Throughout her career, Lisa has been influential in integration techniques, organizational and cultural overhauls, financial turnarounds and developing employees into exceptional leaders, results driven managers and passionate team contributors.


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Comments (13)

Diethard Engel -LinkedIn posted on: June 29, 2012

Good article. Many managers consider themselves a leader but really they are not. I think the bit around "inspiration of others" is the major differentiator.
Another aspect of leadership is keeping the right balance between risk and reward when making directional decisions.

Harmohan Kawatra posted on: June 29, 2012

Let us put it this way:
There are many right answers,best is one your instinct tells you, but after you have slept over for at least one night after assimilating all available information.

Frank Cox posted on: June 29, 2012

Excellent article, thanks for posting it.

Annie Wang posted on: July 30, 2012

Thanks, very good article.

Julie Kuiters posted on: July 30, 2012

Leaders are so blessed when they develop the positive behaviors of asking questions, inviting comments and listening to opinions. Being aware of possibilities and discerning the correct way forward demands a keen sense of knowing how to access all the developing knowledge and information available to them. One of the primary sources of growth for a leader lies in respecting and communicating with their primary 'appreciating asset' - their people. Thanks for the article.
Posted by

Alex Dail posted on: July 30, 2012

Hi Lisa,

On the micro-level I agree with your premise. However, leaders I believe have a vision (as you pointed out in your first bullet) that becomes their North star. So in that sense know the best direction, however, what decisions we make as part of getting to our ideal destination aren't as clear. So there are a lot of course corrections.


Giuseppe posted on: October 3, 2012

I agree with the article and not 100% with the comment "there are many right answers" left by Harmohan. There are no right answer, just a list of cause and effects from making a choice (or choosing to not make one). In essence, a Leader will choose one that he/she can foresee the outcome and be able to use it to align his/her overall strategy. Each choice brings about disadvantages and shortcomings of varying levels. However, these are not negative but rather constraints.

Yet, what if one of the Leader's strength is actually the major weakness of a chosen path?? Then this choice, which is a prohibitive path for other Leaders (barrier to entry) becomes a preferrable choice for this one.

All I am saying is that there are no right answers: just a choice with which consequences can either play in your favor - your strategy, or against it. Good Leaders make the choice with foresight; Poor Leaders don't...

John Paul Reese-Colligan posted on: October 4, 2012

Anyone can be a leader but not all can lead. It is sometimes said that to be a great leader you need a crystal ball, I do not believe this to be the case. Great leaders will inspire men to follow on their every whim, they will not only state how they are going to get where they need to get to; they will actually do it. Great leaders hold themselves accountable for their own failings and failings of the team, but more so they deliver a strategy to mitigate failings as a collective by leading from the front.

Understanding the need of the end result, allows the leader to deliver through utilization of the resources around him or her to provide success. Calling oneself a leader and acting in a figurehead capacity only, is not the trait of a great leader.

John Paul Reese-Colligan posted on: October 4, 2012

Warren Buffet is famous for many things however, it is true to say he is the master of utilizing the resources available to him, he has never in his whole career given a direct instruction to anyone. WB explains his theory, and people listen, digest and act.

This is the trait of a great leader.

Caroline Clarke posted on: October 4, 2012

If in how not to lead one of the 'not' that stands out is disempowerment - that is failure to empower staff to engage in a conversation - to recognise applying to the skill set strengthens the connections on synergies to achieve best possible outcomes serving the interests of all stakeholders. Neutralising risk = risk mitigated and the reward on attendance small change can make a big difference is achievable.

Antonia Geiger posted on: October 4, 2012

Some lessons I've learned:
not to yell at employees;
don't demand that someone does something and two days later get angry that they did what you asked;
not to micromanage;
not to be arrogant;
not to be unethical;
not to treat employees as if they're incompetent and stupid; and
not to jump to conclusions without ever finding out the truth and making rash decisions as a result.

Deborah D. posted on: October 10, 2012

A strong leader leads by persuasion, convincingly and through engagement. Not through oppression of opinion, creativity and with total disregard for the individual's own need for fulfillment. The best leaders I have had nurtured trust and respect as the foundation of their relationship. Scrutiny and mistrust are the fastest way to fracture your team. Hope that helps!

Rachel Macaulay posted on: November 26, 2012

A leader has to be able to "get the ball rolling". There is nothing more counter-productive than a "leader" that shoots down ideas at the outset of a project. I recognize that not all ideas are good ideas. Rather, many ideas simply cannot work and therefore, must be re-worked or dismissed. However, oftentimes egos or insecurities limit the willingness of group members to speak freely. A leader must promote a positive, safe environment for his/her employees. Therefore, at the outset of a meeting it is important to make everyone feel valued and encourage them to speak up. A leader should open each meeting with a casual, judgement-free discussion about the project at hand. Group members should be able to introduce out-of-the-box ideas free from the scoffs or sneers of their peers. A leader should encourage and reward those individuals that are willing to dive into an issue and present solutions -- even if they need to be edited.

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