Ten Functions of a Leader

1.      Help interpret the meaning of events

2.      Create alignment on objectives and strategies

3.      Build task commitment and optimism

4.      Build mutual trust and cooperation

5.      Strengthen collective identity

6.      Organize and coordinate activities

7.      Encourage and facilitate collective learning

8.      Obtain necessary resources and support

9.      Develop and empower people

10.  Promote social justice and morality

-Gary Yukl, Leadership in Organizations


Clarity Circles

A clarity circle is a process by which a group of people helps a person through an important life choice by ONLY asking questions — to help them perceive the realities, assumptions, and emotions that underlie their dilemma. The person facing the important choice sits in a chair, and the other members form a semi circle around her. The circle starts with the person in the middle explaining their dilemma or life choice. The other members then take turns asking open-ended and non-leading questions, which are each answered by the person in the center. The process continues until the person in the center has achieved clarity around the issue.

…Too often in…

…Too often in organizational life, people begin analyzing problems by personalizing them (“If only Joe was a leader…”) or attributing the situation to interpersonal conflict (“Sally and Bill don’t collaborate very well because their work styles are so at odds”). This tendency often obscures a deeper; more systemic (and perhaps more threatening) understanding of the situation. For example, “Sally and Bill represent conflicting perspectives on the tough strategic trade-offs that need to be made in our harsh economic climate, and each is protecting the functions and jobs of their own people. The conflict is structural, not personal, even if it’s taken on a personal tone.” To counteract the personalization of problems, start with diagnosing and acting on the system (“moving outside in”) and then do the same for the self (“moving inside out”).

Heifetz, The practice of adaptive leadership, p. 8