Episode 11 – Nine Roles of Great Leadership

Your Sports Resource

In this episode, Renata discusses an article she found that talked about the 9 roles of great leadership. She evaluates each one and then offers a 10th role that she feels was left out. That is the role of a blocker. Please head over to http://www.yoursportsresource.com to check out and download that tool.

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00:00:00 Introduction

This is the Your Sports Resource Podcast, where each week you’ll learn actionable strategies that you can implement so the operations of your club support your staff and the direction of your organization. We are committed to excellence in youth sports leadership. Let’s get started.


Hello everyone and welcome to this week’s Your Sports Resource Podcast episode. A few months ago, I came across this little snippet on LinkedIn regarding the nine roles of great leadership. It was a visual picture. It had all these little diagrams and pictures of a leader, and you know the nine roles that that person plays. And at first, I was thinking, you know? Yeah, this is so true, there are all these people, but then when I started to try to relate it to sports clubs, I ended up just shaking my head feeling like it’s just impossible or it seems impossible to have or to possess or to be all nine of those roles.


So, when I was planning for this week’s episode, I thought you know what that information is, why it’s so important for sports clubs, non-profit or not to have the right leadership.


One that can lean on each other for specific skills. One that can give each other the room to excel at what they are good at. One that’s filled with mutual respect but also you know, like the motivation to like, let’s get it and let’s get it together.


So, I dropped what I was doing, and I wanted to go ahead and talk about these nine roles of great leadership. So, this came from a group at Qaspire.com and you know they’re the ones who made the graphic that I found. And I’ll put a copy of it up on my website and there should be a link in the paragraph below this episode.


But anyhow, here’s the nine different roles. OK, so the architect, planner, executor, conductor, teacher, steward, innovator, expert, and thinker.


So, what do you think? Does that resonate? Do you think that a leader should possess all nine of those roles?


It probably does, but you know I want to point out that I thought this was saying a leader needed to be all of those things. However, when I reread the graphic, it says leadership, not leader. So, a group of leaders may be, which is how we probably should all be taking this information in.


So, when the organization is more than just a couple of people, there’s no way that you can do all of this alone. It must be a leadership team, right? So, let’s break these down one by one to see if that actually makes sense.


So, first up is the Architect. This is where you set the vision values and clarity of the organization, and for me you know I would add the behaviors. I don’t think you can establish the direction and expect the values to be upheld if you don’t think through and set the behavior expectation. And I know you’ve heard me say this before, but if you haven’t, go back and look at my other episodes where I talk about this.


If you’re just starting out, you may be setting your mission first before you do you know your vision and your values and your behaviors, which is fine. And maybe just to clarify how I differentiate between the mission and the vision is that your mission is why you exist as an organization, and your vision is, you know where you’re going.


Your vision can be changed every few years. Once you have obtained your goal. But you know your mission is set that’s why you’re established as a company, so this all makes sense, right? Because quite honestly, if you don’t know why you’re here or where you’re going, how will you get everyone moving in the same direction? So, I think that, yeah, that role of the architect actually makes sense.


So, the second role is the Planner. The one who can think short-term and long-term. The ability to plan and look at things from all angles or can project you know what might happen with sports through several different types of planning in there.


There’s you know, the competition side. There’s the fundraising or events side. And you know then there’s a long-term operational side, like how will we achieve our vision type of planning? To me, I feel like this is where the term it takes a village, or it takes a village concept comes into play. But nonetheless, the skill is still planning.


It just might not be the same person in every single area. Also, I know when it comes to competition, sometimes that’s a joint effort, just in that piece of work alone, right? You might have the coaches who are just concerned with the meet or the competition, itself from the athlete’s side point of view, and then you might have someone else who’s trying to plan, I don’t know how you’ll get there.  Where are you going to stay? Where are you going to eat all those types of activities? Or maybe you’re hosting the meet or the competition, which is a whole another set of planning activities. So, I think the second role of planner really fits well.


The third role is the Executor. So, I don’t know that I exactly agree with the title of this role, but I think what they’re getting at is that this is the person who ensures that the doers are doing the doing. Not that the leader or the executor is doing the doing. Does that make sense?


Sometimes they are one and the same, especially when you’re working with small nonprofits. But essentially, the world revolves around those who put plans into action, right? So, from my perspective, what they’re trying to say is the leader’s role is to ensure that, that all is actually happening right?


The fourth role is the Conductor. This is one that is most discussed when it comes to leadership qualities, I think. It’s the role that motivates, inspires, cheers on the efforts of all the other people there, right? So, this is usually most talked about because I think a lot of times we’re still stuck in the dark ages, or for some reason, we have people that try to motivate via ploys and tactics instead of actually being a leader, and unfortunately, that is still the concept, especially when it comes to coaching.


Maybe not so much with the athletes, which I still think there’s some of that, but you know, when coaches are coaching other coaches, I think they try to lead through the stick instead of being that conductor mode and trying to motivate and inspire people, but that’s their fourth role, which is the conductor.


Next is the Teacher. The one who shows or models the way, right? So, the mentor or the coach. We all have something to teach, and we all have something we can learn. Not one person on this planet has it all figured outright? So, we all have our one little section that we do really well, and sharing that knowledge is really key. So, the more you share, the more you learn. I know you’ve probably heard of that term, so. The next role of being a teacher, I think you know, is really spot-on as far as being a teacher in your leadership role.


The sixth role is the Steward. Now I love this one. Sometimes you hear it termed as servant leadership, serving others before yourself, ensuring the growth and well-being of those you lead, right?


The thought process is that the more you empower those around you, the more you are successful and well, sorry, the more successful they become. And then by nature, the more successful you become, so there is an art to this. I really believe you have to have it.


I think your brain has to kind of lean in this direction in order to get this concept because I think it’s human nature to consider how things affect you personally or what you will get out of whatever the situation is. But to me, having a servant leadership style or pieces and parts of it is really important in all leaders if you can do that.


Now, I know we’ve only gotten to six roles, but I think you can already understand where I’m going and saying that it’s very hard for one individual to hold all of these roles, which again is why it is so important for you to have a leadership team that possesses these different types of roles and roles to where you can lean on each other.


I have strengths here. You have strengths there, you know, I’m really good at making sure you know people do the work and I’m really good at you know, setting the direction and being the planner or the architect, so I think it’s great to have a team that possesses all of these qualities.


OK, really quick. I’d like to take a moment to tell you about the consulting services that offer. I work with small nonprofits and I’m more focused on those within the Youth Sports Program obviously but let me explain how I can help you improve the direction of your organization and how the Board and the Head Coaches can work together.


My consulting services do just that. My approach to working with Youth Sports Clubs is to work in a way where you have a detailed game plan to implement right away. I stay away from theory. Fluff drives me insane, right?


I’m there to work and to ensure that your club can move out of old mindsets and sameness and move into running the club like the business that it is. Together, moving from surviving to thriving with options.


Send me an email and we will schedule a no-obligation call where we can discuss your areas of concern or where you might feel like you know, hey, I don’t have any concerns, but I’m ready to get to the next level, right? So that email is info@yoursportsresource.com. One more time info@yoursportsresource.com.


OK, the seventh role is the Innovator. Now, the wording on the graphic that they had said that they ideate and they’re enablers of innovation, and I would agree with that.


I don’t know that I agree with the title again innovator. Usually, the leader isn’t the one who has the best ideas. Well, maybe that’s just me, I never had the best ideas, but what I am good at is prodding for deeper thought and helping a group of people noodle through until they come up with the best concept, right?


I would love for more sports clubs to pause here and think about this one. What I see often is that a club has a problem. And then someone has thought about how to solve that problem and then you just run with that, that thought, right?


Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. No matter what it is usually though it’s short-sighted because it’s just a quick fix. So, I would really love for clubs to take a moment and think things through, and you know, kind of think about it. Is this the best solution long-term or is it a quick fix? Do we need to come up with something else?


So, if you have someone on your leadership team, that’s really good at directing this type of activity. Make sure they are the one that is involved in this type of process, and not just letting you get away with that quick fix. So, the innovator is really good.


Number eight in the roles of great leadership is the Expert. Yeah, when I read that one, I was like Oh my God, what a lot of pressure. And again, I think we all have areas of greatness, and we all have areas of gaps, right?


So, the key is finding the right greatness for the appropriate situation. And that’s not always going to be the same person. The board president or the head coach, you know, they don’t always have the right skills for every single situation, and it’s a bit short-sighted to expect them to manage every solution, right?


That’s why it’s important to have a diverse leadership team. You’ll need those who understand the industry. You’ll need those who have business acumen. You’ll need those to have financial acumen. You’ll need to have those that can maneuver through people and relationships.


I mean, these are all very different, right? So, I think there are all different kinds of experts. So again, kind of leading into that leadership team and not just one person having it all.


And lastly, the ninth role is the Thinker. The one who can think critically and analyze and assess. Now I know your mind probably goes directly to data or crunching numbers, but honestly, it’s more than that.


It’s also about people and situations, and I think, especially when it comes to sports clubs that’s really important because you need people who can look at a situation to go, yeah, I understand where you’re going, but this is how it’s probably going to play out with the families.


This is how it’s probably going to play out with whoever are involved in that situation, so I agree in that the ninth role is the thinker, the one who can critically analyze and assess and make decisions based on that analysis and not just jump writing right into it.


OK, I think there’s one more role. A role ten if you will, that’s very important, and one that, well, I received probably the biggest amount of feedback over my career as a project and program leader in a department head. And this is the role of a blocker clearing paths and taking hits.


I often put my team in motion to break new ground. You know, I tell them like figure it out. There has to be a better way. There has to be a better solution. And sometimes that path was applauded by my peers and superiors. Sometimes you know not so much, more often than not, not so much because you know, sometimes people don’t like it when you forge a new path.


But no matter what, I made sure that I never sent my team directly into a brick wall. I always cleared the path and if they did end up hitting resistance then I would take the lead and push through so they could keep going.


The other important piece of this role specifically is to take the hit for the team. So, when I said taking hits. Don’t get me wrong, if someone messes up, they heard about it but never in front of everyone else or never in front of another team. And most of all, never ever in front of my superiors. First, we are a team. If one of us makes a mistake, we’re all to blame because someone should have spoken up.


But second, and in my experience and this is probably, no I’m going to say this is absolutely my ego speaking, but I think I’ve only had one manager in my entire career that wasn’t quick to point the finger at someone else. So, it was very much based on my pride that I was going to show these people how to behave and live up to some kind of value standard.


I have one example in mind where I had an entire leadership team. It was a massive team. I think there were like 13, 14 people at a major company that was absolutely livid with me because I refused to say a specific person was responsible for a pretty bad situation, it was bad. It was really bad. It affected the public quite harshly.


And it would have been really easy for me to point the finger, but that’s just not how I operate. So, they let me go after I finally said, so we can continue to be in the standoff, or you can just let me go fix it, right, so your call. So, they let me go.


Now in sports teams, I do know that we have a lot of ignoring going on, ignoring problems, right? Which tells me that there’s much more opportunity to block for people. So, if you ignore a problem, that means there’s something that could be resolved to help your team. So more in the space of setting people up to be successful, then maybe you know taking the hit for the team.


But think about your volunteers and setting them on a path to deliver. Part of that work is to ensure that they have a clear path to deliver.


OK, so there are the ten roles of great leadership and honestly, please take note on ensuring that you have a strong leadership team that can be all of these things.


You’ll definitely get more done. You’ll be more efficient. You’ll be more effective, and things will be delivered in a timely manner if there’s more than one person at the helm.


Thank you for listening today! Please subscribe, rate, and review this podcast, so you know, more can hear about how they can improve the leadership of their Sports Club. Thanks, everyone!