The Two Most Important Functions of a Leader

What are the two most important functions of a leader?

The most Important leadership functions

A leader must identify & concentrate on the tasks that give the highest return on their investment.
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I think that Dan Black hits the nail on the head in this post. If you are a leader now, begin focusing on these two high ROI roles. If you are not currently a leader, start doing these two things even now and study them as you progress towards leadership.

Dan normally writes at his blog but today he is joining us here. His purpose and passion is to help people of influence reach their potential. I love Dan’s writing and highly suggest subscribing to his blog. You can connect with him on Twitter and get a free leadership quote book by clicking here.

So what are the two most important functions of a leader? I’ll let Dan take it from here…

Leaders and managers have tremendous workloads. However, we must remember every task does not have the same priority or return on investment (ROI). Some tasks are necessary for the leader to accomplish while others should be delegated so it won’t drain our time and energy. This is why a leader must identify and concentrate on the tasks that produce the highest return on their investment.

Here are two tasks that will produce a high return on your time, energy, and effort:

1. Finding and equipping talent. 

Akio Morita, the founder of Sony Corporation, said,

“No matter how good or how successful you are, or how clever or crafty, your business and its future are in the hands of the people you hire.

This statement shows the importance of finding and recruiting highly skilled and talented people to join your team or organization. Having talented people increases the results and lifts the potential of the entire organization. When a leader finds and places talented people in the right places the investment can secure the business or organization for the future.

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However, it does not stop there. A leader must invest effort and time in training and equipping their people. We must remember even the most talented people still need to have ongoing training and development in order to stay sharp and grow in relevant work skills.

When a leader invests in training they will begin to see an increase of positive results, work proficiency, and profits. This happens because when a leader cares and intentionally develops their workers, the workers will take care and retain customers or clients. Author John Maxwell says,

“Investing in a team almost guarantees a high return for the effort, because a team can do so much more than individuals.”

2. Being a “Vision Representative.” 

It is essential for a leader to represent and keep the organizational vision alive. This can be a challenge because vision leaks. That’s why a leader must represent the vision by always casting and reminding the people about the vision. It’s important to share the why and how of the vision so the people connect and see the purpose of it.

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The vision is so crucial because it’s the driving force to moving your business or organization to greatness. The future of what you’re leading is greatly determined by keeping the vision on the minds of your people. When people know and buy into the vision they are more inclined to produce positive results. The President of the University of Notre Dame, Theodore Hesburgh said

“The very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion.”

Be intentional in communicating the vision every chance you can.

Questions: Do you allow other tasks to interfere with time that should be spent on the two most important leadership functions? How can you make more time to focus on them?

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  • I sure do. I love social media, and that can be a challenge. So, I try to leverage SM to help me in those areas.

    • I’m with you there Todd!

    • Great point Todd. It’s so important that we make SM a tool, not our master. If it controls us, it wont help at all and can greatly hurt our productivity and growth. But if we use it as a tool, it will benefit us in an huge way.

  • I’m easily distracted from important tasks, but I also seem to be able to refocus when needed. I have a vision, and the few working with me are able to help build it.

    • That’s great your able to refocus so you can concentrate on the important tasks. Thank you for reading and sharing.

  • Great post Dan! I think that is the great challenge of leadership–and life–focusing on things that we should not, or should have others focus on. I remember reading the book “The Power of Focus” by Mark Victor Hansen and Jack Canfield. In there they talk about how you should stop doing the things that others can do, or that you aren’t good at. They point out mowing your lawn. I have mentioned that to ALOT of people and most look at that as being snooty or stuck up or thinking you’re “too good” for such tasks. Whereas, thats not it at all, you’re just delegating a task to someone else so you can focus on the things that ONLY YOU can do.
    I think you’re two functions are spot on! Only you as the leader can find and train great talent, and only you as a leader can discover, set and articulate vision!

    • Great points Mark. I think it shows being a good steward of our time and talents. to say no to low priorities so we can say yes to the top ones.

      I’ll have to check out the book you mention. It sounds really good. I’m glad you enjoyed the post and thank you for adding to the discussion.

      • It was a great book. It’s been quite some time since I read it, but that part has stuck with me. I probably should read it again 😉
        I think it’s important to mention that saying “no” to low priorities requires that we know what our priorities are, which is another discussion altogether!

    • I need to read that book Mark.

      I love both authors.

      I agree with you that too many people think it is “stuck up” to hire someone to do something.

      Is it stuck up to have someone else clean my house? The house cleaners sure don’t think so!!! And I can take the four hours they spend cleaning it, work for two, cover the costs, and spend two hours with my family. How is that NOT a win?

      All the while, investing in the local economy.

      Personally I know I could save about 150 hours a year delegating my yard work to a company, but I enjoy it too much. Same reason I don’t delegate my running. haha

      • It is certainly a gem of a book. I love how you broke down the benefits of having someone clean your house! So true!
        And I really think you’re on to something with delegating your running. I may implement that into my own life! haha

      • DS

        Enjoy the sentiment shared here.

  • Squirrel!

  • Great post Dan!
    Investing in others is just that…an investment! Totally worth doing. Sometimes the daily things in life can get in the way. I find I have to be intentional about investing in others. Put it near the top of my “To Do List” or it easily falls to the bottom.

    • Very similar to how investing my money is intentional. Otherwise, life gets in the way. And by life, I mean my overwhelming desire to own a beach house in Hawaii and to fly there frequently.

      • If you ever need someone to fulfill that desire to fly there frequently if you’re not able, I’ll email you the address to which you can send the plane ticket 😉

      • LOL!

    • I have found people investment is the best investment a leader can make. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

      • DS

        It’s awesome watching people grow. Kind of like when I watch my children gain another skill we’ve been working on.

  • Amen on the finding and equipping talent. This is something I have not done that well and I’m paying for it now!

    • Been there, done that Loren.

      For most companies (not all, but most), if you combine money paid to and hours spent with (training, meeting with, etc.) our team, people are the most expensive part of the company.

      Let’s look at a sales exec at a 200 person company.

      Salary: $80,000
      Bonuses: $50,000
      Benefits: $10,000
      Time: 100 hours (valued at approx. $50,000 for a CEO)

      That’s $200,000 on one person. Probably worth a few hours in the hiring process.

      Not to mention the intangibles like morale, etc.

      • Great breakdown Matt. It shows the importance of finding the right people and equipping them for success.

  • Great points, Dan. It’s definitely something I can work on with more intentionality. Over the past few months, I feel like I’ve been able to speak more from a vision standpoint related to the desired culture for our department. The actions that follow this up will speak louder than the words. That’s where I need to get moving.

    • Thanks Jon. That’s great to hear, I’m looking forward to the results it brings. Thanks for sharing.

  • Lulu

    I believe the vision should be in the mission statement. If your organization does not have one – that is a good team building task. Once you have a vision – bring it in at every opportunity. Going to invest in something – how does that fit in with the mission statement? Going to expand – how does that fit in? And so on…then include personal reflection on the vision come annual review. What did the employee do over the last year that captured or supported the vision? What do they see doing over the next couple of years to support the vision? This not only makes it visible – but makes everyone accountable to it. Once personal – you would find it wouldn’t drain away. (This is also applicable at a family level.) The leaders responsiblility? To make sure the team has the tools to accomplish the goals.

    • Well said Lulu.

      Everything must fit in the vision…or the vision must change. Doing the latter is a decision that cannot be taken lightly.

      Sadly, most companies either have no vision or have long forgotten what it is.

  • DS

    Great points here about investing in others. There should be a great deal of pride in training, equipping, and promoting the talent around you as well as the talent you bring on to an organization.

    • Good word…pride!

      People have pride in their own work ethic, but what about instilling it in others?

  • I need to do a better job of delegating – I have a capable team that I need to use more, so I can focus on the things they can’t do. This is a good reminder to focus time on developing talent – something that is often missed in the corporate world of cubicles.

    • Tom,

      I challenge you to begin delegating tasks and responsibilities to the capable people on your team. I know as you do everyone’s time and talents would be maximized. I’m glad the post helped.