There are 3 different leadership roles on a team

The 3 types of people a team needs to keep things running smoothly are a manager, a leader, and a visionary. Several business models exist out there that talk about these types of people using different terms, but leadership roles typically fall into these 3 categories.

In this podcast, I dive into these 3 character-types, how to identify each one, and the importance of knowing in which category you fall.

The Visionary, Leader, and Manager – Listen Now!

Identifying leadership roles in an organization

Managers are usually the ones who get down into the weeds of the work. They aren’t doing the work necessarily, but they are in the work every day. They are often timeline driven; conscientious; and observant. They are also very resourceful. They can think and plan long-term, but will often be focused on the “right now” of a project. They prefer to think in the now or the near future.

Organizations and teams need managers as one of their leadership roles because they are the ones who make sure the work gets done. Without them, work will not be completed!

Now leaders are usually the ones who people go to for guidance. They can mobilize people and get them to move together, as a team, towards a shared vision. They are often compassionate and empathetic people. Leaders usually have a natural ability to get people to open up to them because they know when to talk, and when to listen. They usually think about the past quite a bit and how lessons learned can improve the future efforts. And, leaders are fairly resilient, even in a crisis.

Organizations need leaders in leadership roles because they are the ones who take care of the people and guide the team during times of uncertainty.

The third type of person is a visionary. Visionaries are usually the people who are the face of a team or company. They are often extroverts. They have an easy time plugging in to most conversations. Visionaries are confident. People either love them or hate them; if you work for a visionary you love, you would follow them anywhere. Visionaries have a hard time staying in the present, though, or even staying in the near future. They usually play a huge part in setting mission and vision, and they are usually thinking about strategy years in advance.

Organizations need visionaries in leadership roles because they are the ones who encourage everyone else to be better; they’re the ones who innovate. They’re the ones who set the path and will be the first one in line.

One person can fit into two leadership roles

I believe one person can be a manager and leader, or be a leader and visionary, but I have not yet seen a visionary who is a manager.

Why is this important to know? First, it’s all about right person, right seat as well as balancing strategy with tactics. And second, dreams are great, but if no one implements the work to achieve them, they’ll never become a reality. You have to know who you need in leadership roles, and who you’re missing, to make sure your mission and vision are achieved.

If you’re struggling with moving towards a vision, it’s likely your team is missing one of those key pieces.

What about your leadership role?

Make sure you’ve got the right team in place! Follow these steps:

Step 1: Figure out who YOU are, and be really honest with yourself.  You are most likely a leader for sure; you are also likely to either be a manager OR visionary. I recently recorded a podcast that shares a story about a business owner who didn’t want to be a leader anymore. He wanted to manage – and that’s ok. What is important is for you to know is who you are.

For me, I know I’m a visionary and leader. I’m not a good manager because I’m always thinking big picture and I’m more concerned with how people feel than the work that’s getting done. I have a manager who is also a leader working for me, and I also have someone who is a pure manager, to help make up for the managerial skills I lack.

Step 2: Identify who on your team plays the other roles. Use those examples and characteristics I mentioned earlier to help you with this. If you really get stuck, have a conversation with that person about it – find out how they feel about their current role, and talk to them about strategy, planning, or other elements of work to help you get a read on them.

Step 3: Move towards alignment –  if you have a manager who is actually a leader, maybe some job duties need to change. If you are the visionary but you’re still managing work, that needs to change. It won’t happen over night, but create a plan and timeline for making these strategic shifts. And if you are a manager, definitely ask for help with this from your leaders!

This type of alignment in leadership roles will create an environment for a more successful team. The other reason you want to go through this exercise is most of your team will be happier at work when they are in the right roles for them  – which makes for a more productive environment and better workplace culture.