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If a customer walked into their local Costco and met a man with a name tag labeled “Jim,” they probably wouldn’t think much about it. Jim was a helpful employee who won people over with a charming smile and a firm handshake. His positive attitude made buyers’ days that much brighter. Yet, customers would probably be surprised to find out that Jim Sinegal wasn’t just a resourceful staff member who demonstrated great customer service. He was the co-founder and CEO of Costco, holding multiple leadership roles for the company between 1983 and 2011.
While now retired, many knew Jim as a great leader and an easily approachable man. He would visit Costco stores throughout the country, studying each one to get a feel for how they operated. Sinegal also made his phone number readily available so employees could call him and speak with him directly. Additionally, he earned a reasonable salary of only $350,000—an unheard-of amount in an age when CEOs of successful corporations pay themselves millions.
In many ways, Jim Sinegal is one of the great examples of leadership, filling many leadership roles within his company. His leadership skills were some of the best in the industry, and people loved him for it. There are many roles a leader can take, and the more roles they fill, the better off a company will be. Seeing good leaders in action like this will inspire workers to improve their performance, follow through on their goals, and even develop leadership qualities themselves.
In this article, learn about the most important leadership roles you can personify, along with some real leadership examples in the business world.
Every company needs a vision, and one of the roles of a leader is to provide it. Great leaders point to the destination, offering people a goal they need to work toward. While a vision might be something as simple as increased profits, the loftier it is, the more inspired and motivated people will be to reach it.
Elon Musk is an example of a leader who maps out an ambitious vision for team members. One of his stated visions is to have humans land on Mars by 2026 to ensure the human race progresses forward. This vision encourages tremendous hard work and helps his employees at SpaceX understand why their work matters.
Need help establishing a firm vision for your organization? This article can provide more guidance.
Once a vision or goal is laid out, another role leaders can take on is that of an organizer. The role of organizer means planning the strategy that will help an organization reach the company’s vision. Of all the leadership roles, this one requires the most skills involving problem-solving. The more detailed an organizer is, the more successful they tend to be. They’re the ones who create the steps that others can follow, putting difficult goals within reach.
When Dan Hesse became the CEO of Sprint, he had a tough job on his hands. The company had suffered billions of dollars in losses and the future looked bleak. Hesse quickly put his leadership skills in organizing to work, starting a new rate plan and focusing on improving customer service. An acquisition of Virgin Mobile USA soon followed along with getting a foothold in prepaid plans. More subscribers soon followed, and within a matter of a few years, Sprint was earning billions more in revenue.
The Role Model
Leaders who serve as an example for employees to follow are often called role models. The role model offers an inspirational example through their words and actions. They’re someone workers can look up to. A role model can serve as an example of determination, hard work, honesty, and optimism. They garner admiration throughout their careers by maintaining a positive attitude and getting results.
Want to build trust as a leader? Then check out this article.
One of the more overlooked roles of a leader is that of the servant. Servant leadership in business happens when a leader wants to serve the needs of the people within their organization, their customers, and their clients. These are leaders who listen closely to others as they seek to understand what they need to succeed. They hold themselves accountable for shortcomings, never blame others for their mistakes, and multiply leaders throughout the business by providing teaching and guidance.
Dan Cathy, the CEO of Chick-fil-A, has gained a glowing reputation for his servant leadership style. He regularly works in the field, connecting with customers at restaurants all over the country as he looks to serve them and his employees. As he states, “Selfless, servant leadership is about action, and the bottom line is that what we say and what we believe will only be as effective as what we are also willing to do.”
Looking to learn more about servant leadership? Read this article to find out more.
Another one of the leadership roles for people within the business world deals with motivating others. When considering that 79 percent of employees end up quitting their jobs because they feel like they aren’t appreciated enough, a leader showing they care about someone’s work can go far. To do this, praise, recognize, and acknowledge team members for their hard work and dedication. In many ways, inspiring and motivating the team, especially during difficult situations, is the difference between leadership and management.
Need some extra motivation? Check out these motivational Steve Jobs quotes.
Sometimes, leaders need to be more directive. When doing this, they become a coach and trainer for others. A coach often works in a one-on-one capacity to help people develop and improve their talents and skills. Coaches provide feedback for people, giving them tips on how to better their performance. Coaches can also draw from their own experiences and talents to help employees reach their full potential. Many people who have had leadership development coaches in their careers attest to their ability to guide them toward long-term, sustainable success.
Want to learn how to give great feedback? Read this article for more.
While people can showcase a variety of leadership styles, leaders can’t do everything themselves. At some point, they should take on the role of the delegator. This allows leaders to pick people to handle certain duties and responsibilities. The team members they choose should display the right skills to take on whatever the leader assigns them. In this way, duties get spread out, which makes people feel more responsible and engaged. It also gives people a chance to grow into a leadership position.
Though there are many leadership examples of delegation out there, perhaps none exemplify the true power of a delegator quite like Warren Buffett. Buffett has gained notoriety for hiring the right people to run his business ventures. Buffett indicates he does not feel the need to supervise every tiny detail, so he leaves it to others to make the day-to-day decisions, trusting them to get results. Though he takes a hands-off approach, he still leaves himself open for questions and guidance when needed.
Ready to find out more about the benefits of delegation? Be sure to read this.
Leaders who embody the listener role always take time to hear those around them. This is how they find out about issues before they become bigger problems. Along with listening, they ask questions to make sure they understand the challenge. This establishes communication with others, allowing them to feel comfortable talking to their leaders.
“If you want to stand out as a leader, a good place to begin is by listening.” That’s the advice of Richard Branson, who has long advocated for leaders to be active listeners. Branson claims that by listening, leaders can develop the most effective business strategies and empower their employees. Through conversations with others, Branson got ideas that later developed into innovative new projects. It’s clear listening stimulates creative muscles, much in the way Branson has described.
Tied closely with the listener is the communicator role. This role employs speaking and written communication skills to give a clear message to others, but there are other skills used as well. A good communicator should be someone who has a friendly personality. That leaves other people more open to listening and doing what the leader says. How the message is delivered matters, too. Messages should be uplifting, inspirational, instructive, or helpful.
Interested in gaining more communication skills? Check out this article.
Putting Leadership Roles Into Practice
The leadership roles explained above aren’t reserved for people with higher education degrees. They’re for everybody looking to show exceptional leadership qualities in the business world. With these leadership roles, people inspire others to greatness, solve crucial business problems, and reach ambitious goals. The more roles a leader adopts, the more influential they’ll become. Strive to embody as many leadership roles as possible and learn to adopt the most effective leadership characteristics.