The Many Facets of Leadership Roles
As your career develops, you might make several stops along your journey. In some professions, you may start as an intern, then become a specialist or coordinator, then manager, director, and perhaps on to executive roles including vice president or CEO. In all of these career progressions, you also need to take on various leadership roles.
You don't have to wait for a mid-level management title to be seen as a leader; you can learn effective leadership skills at every step of your career, whether that's by managing a group project, becoming a junior employee's mentor, or taking a leadership role in a volunteer capacity outside of work. Additionally, you don't need to know everything all at once. Here's a little secret: no one feels ready when they step into their first leadership role. A survey by a top leadership advisory firm revealed that 68% of CEOs admit they weren't fully prepared to be at the outset.
Although there are some universal skills needed for leadership roles—good communication, initiative, confidence—there's no blueprint. That's because there isn't just one kind of leader. Organizations need a leader with a mix of skillsets to achieve various company goals. To be a marketable job candidate, you also need to know which of your skills will be most effective for each situation you encounter.
Common Leadership Roles
Effective coaches inspire rather than instruct. Gallup surveys show that 86% of employees think their bosses are uninspiring. A coach knows their biggest job is to bring out the best in their team through support, collaboration, and guidance. They are not only coaches but cheerleaders. They lead people to discover solutions rather than jumping in and fixing things themselves. Communication is an essential skill for coaching. Good coaches give clear feedback and encourage two-way communication.
A strategist sees the big picture and can describe it clearly to their team. They are adept at anticipating problems and spotting opportunities, so that plans can be refined for the best outcomes. They work with their team to create step-by-step plans and follow them with a goal in mind. A strategist needs analytical skills and must be good at problem-solving.
A visionary leader sees potential and can mobilize a team to optimize it. They map out a program or solution in their mind, inspire and guide employees to complete it. They are usually highly creative and persistent. They can be described as bold. A visionary needs to be open-minded and have excellent communication skills to inspire others to see the vision.
Managers are the glue that holds an organization together and the engine responsible for day-to-day operation. They know the inner workings of an organization and are good at project management. They motivate employees by building trust and relationships, organizing, and guiding them to achieve goals and solve problems. A manager needs interpersonal skills and must know how to plan projects and delegate.
A leader who is trusted as a decision-maker knows how to define a problem, develop a list of potential solutions to evaluate, and then choose the best one. They know when to move quickly and when to gather more information before making a decision. One of the most important qualities of a decision-maker in a leadership role is emotional intelligence. They have to ability to understand and manage their emotions and those of others on the team. A decision-maker needs sharp reasoning skills and needs to know how to work on a team.
A mentor shares the experience they have gotten in a company or industry with someone in the organization who is less experienced. They act as an advisor and provide perspective. Mentoring helps the mentee, the mentor, and the organization by helping develop future leaders. Studies show a positive correlation between a positive mentoring experience and a measurable improvement in productivity, retention, commitment, satisfaction, knowledge sharing, leadership growth, and succession planning. Mentors need to have good communication skills to provide feedback.
Explore Open Leadership Roles
If you don't see where you fit in your organization's leadership, take a look at what opportunities are available right now at other companies. Be sure to create a Monster profile so we can start sending you job alerts and career tips. We'll help you find a home for your inner leader.