Think Shift Academy

The Roles of a Leader

Understand the eight roles an effective leader plays. 


Thinking about the different roles you play as a leader will help you develop a more versatile approach to leadership. Develop a richer understanding of each role and get practical insight and advice about management and leadership by sorting and selecting the tools by role.



Help others connect with your organization and grow your influence.
Leaders as visionaries paint an inclusive, uplifting, vivid picture of the future that causes others to connect emotionally to the organization. They weave a story that resonates with employees and attracts customers.

A common misconception is that the visionary is loud and extroverted, but this isn’t always the case. A calm and soft-spoken leader who is intentional about his/her message can be just as influential.

Tools for the Visionary



Motivate your employees by aligning your organization’s goals with theirs. 

If the visionary plants the flag, the preacher waves it with passion and conviction. Leaders influence others by preaching the vision and values, reinforcing the narrative and promoting unity and a sense of adventure in a growing organization.

Preachers should also draw boundaries around the vision, clearly defining what is and is not acceptable in pursuit of organizational goals.

Tools for the Preacher



Define a clear direction for your organization.

The leader-as-strategist develops a simple, elegant and convincing roadmap, connecting the organization from where they are to where they want to be. A good strategist should balance the short–term needs and long-term goals of the organization.

Whereas the preacher appeals to the heart, the strategist appeals to the head, recognizing and managing the influence emotions have in decision-making. Strategists elevate logic, evidence, risk and rationality. Effective leaders are careful to separate their preacher and strategist headspace.

Tools for the Strategist



Instruct others while furthering your own education.

Creating a learning, teaching organization can be a competitive differentiator. The Teacher-leader takes the time to incorporate small teaching moments into everyday interactions, explaining the why and how of things.

Leaders occupied with the demands of running the business may experience difficulty finding time to teach, but those who intentionally spend 10% of their time teaching and 10% of their time learning create a culture of empowerment and innovation.

Tools for the Teacher



Avoid decision-making fatigue by balancing best interests.

The Manager-leader acts as a guardian of the company’’s assets balancing what’’s best for the company with what’’s best for employees. They are sensitive about becoming too focused on the basics of staffing and evaluating and not spending enough time serving as true stewards of their company’s most valuable asset.

Tools for the Manager



Help your employees realize their potential.

Whereas the teacher tells you something new, a coach helps you develop something you already know. The role of leader-as-coach helps motivate and empower employees one-on-one, helping them become better versions of themselves by establishing good communication, working through victim mentalities and defining their specific strengths and weaknesses.

Tools for the Coach



Enforce the rules.

Leaders must hold people accountable to their commitments. As importantly, Sergeant-leaders create a culture where it’s not only safe to hold the boss accountable, but where collegiality isn’t undermined as a consequence of greater accountability.

Tools for the Sergeant



Know when to follow.

Recognizing when not to lead and rather, simply do the work under the direction of others, is paradoxically a powerful way to lead. The Worker-leader empowers others by stepping back, rolling up their sleeves and working alongside.

Tools for the Worker



To learn more about the Roles of a Leader and our Tools to help bridge the gap between them, contact us at