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The 15 Functions of Leadership

Leadership functions are the ways that a leader can add value to a group. Leadership is a basic social construct that emerges in any group that serves to unify the actions of the group to a common purpose. This requires a degree of social dominance over the other members of the group. Leadership is a remarkably persistent feature of social systems that is nearly universal in a group of any size. Leadership serves a few critical functions:


Developing group goals and a plan to achieve those goals.


Acting on the moment to take opportunities and manage risks as they arise.

Decision Making

Social processes of decision making such as consensus often lead to suboptimal or even irrational decisions. Leadership serves to tightly bind decision authority and accountability. This can lead to rational decisions, as they are the product of a single mind as opposed to a process of social compromise and positioning.

Problem Solving

Overcoming obstacles to lead the way forward.


Orchestrating resources to get things done.


Directing and controlling resources.

Relational Capital

Networking and managing relationships to connect the group.

Stakeholder Management

Pitching the value of the group to stakeholders and the media to obtain resources and external influence.

Time Management

Making good use of time with prioritization and continuous improvement of productivity.

Influence & Motivation

Selling strategy, tactics and decisions to the group to get people moving in the same direction with commitment and energy.

Change Management

Pushing change through by communicating its urgent purpose. A leader sidelines resistance to change and empowers agents of change.

Leading by Example

Acting as a good example for the group that inspires others to be ethical, diligent, committed and resilient.

Developing Others

Leaders develop the knowledge, abilities and character of team members.


Shaping the culture of an organization, team or group to establish productive norms, expectations and shared meaning.


Leading the group through stresses, problems and failures to prevent a loss of motivation, focus and direction.


Communication is often listed as a function of leadership. However, communication is the means by which a leader achieves their function and is not a function in itself.
Overview: Leadership Functions
The ways that a leader can add value to a group.
Related Concepts

Leadership Functions

This is the complete list of articles we have written about leadership functions.
Abilene Paradox
Decision Making
Leadership Decisions
Problem Solving
Time Management
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