The Five Roles

“When I carried out my research to write The Culture Builders, I was looking for great leaders and managers that were exceptional examples of the five roles in action; strong prophets, storytellers, strategists, coaches and pilots. I continue to seek first class individuals in these roles, as I work with organisations. They’re rare and unique. Click on the roles below to watch them in action.”
Jane Sparrow

The Prophet: the one with the vision for the future, forward-looking, inspirationally overflowing. This role is all about what’s over the horizon, and we should all be aiming to get there (the past’s a forgotten place). More

The Storyteller: bringing the journey to life, uses rich language to localise the vision and help people bridge the gap between where we are and where we’re going. More

The Strategist: keeping it all on track, aligning actions and people with the goal, ensuring ‘it’s for the long term’. Driving consistency of behaviour and longevity of an initiative to ensure a successful outcome. More

The Coach: Knowing what makes the heart ‘beat’ of the people in their team, and using that knowledge to engage them fully in the activity, to use the engagement process to grow and challenge them, constantly thinking how. More

“These first four are what we term the ‘type’ roles, and describe the ways in which we go about engaging the wider organisation. We know from research that there is a preference for the first one, closely followed by the Storyteller. It’s the Strategist that is the least prevalent in managers and leaders – opening up a whole host of issues around longevity of actions and cost for projects.

“The final role, the Pilot, is what we term the ‘style’ role, and focuses more on the personal approaches that a leader of people will rely upon.”

The Pilot: The person with their hand on the tiller, the calm, firm voice in times of change – a style that colours how the person delivers the four ‘type’ roles and steers teams to act and develop in very different ways (we break this role down into three areas: Authoritative, Inclusive and Enabling). More

“All five roles are made, not born in people, and can be attained by focus, effort and determination. Like many areas of leadership theory, the first step is always going to be recognition of what the situation requires and understanding how you personally get there.

“Really high performing individuals that we met did not possess all five in high levels. Rather they had a balance in the four type roles (so either Prophet or Storyteller high, and either Strategist or Coach high). In terms of the Pilot, those that are highly inclusive are seen to do