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  • Writer's picturePhil Cole

Conclusion (Part 5, The Basics)

In each of the past articles in The Basics, we have explored how the functions define the amount of success that a group can have. We have asked, "What does the group need?" However, we have done so in a very factual, almost restrained manner. There is a reason for this.

The reason that we created ReDefine was that so much of the information about leadership is misleading at best, deliberately so at worst.

It is hard for those who have successfully led to separate the facts of their successes from the things that actually made them successful. It is hard to separate individual actions in a specific situation from the factors that those actions acted upon. But without separating these, we cannot project leadership into the future – we cannot develop a process that helps us decide what to do in the future based only on what worked for someone else in a different situation in the past.

Our image of a leader is that of a hero – but no group succeeds because of a leader alone.

Leadership brings out the excellence that is already present in the members of the group. It creates the conditions in which that excellence can be performed. As leaders, our role is to facilitate and guide the functions as they take place in the group, moving each function towards a more productive effect on the group. As we get better at seeing how the functions exist within the members of our group – literally noticing and observing – then we can have a greater impact.

Good leadership looks like a group's success.

But this idea is hard to see. It is hard to turn this idea into specific behaviors when we have practiced ways of interacting that are concrete and obvious: tell people what to do, get frustrated when they do not, and all of the other actions that we think are leadership but often fail to produce the results we want.

This is why Redefine creates the tools of the functional approach to leadership. Because we need concrete, step-by-step methods to learn how to lead.

Our goal with The Basics was to demonstrate that effective leadership is possible for everyone, when we ask the right question. I hope that we have done so.

Here’s where we can go forward. When we see and understand the functions of leadership, we can do some very powerful things. We can:

  • Improve our own leadership performance throughout our work over a career, removing limits to our success.

  • Bring out the greatness in others, and create worthwhile changes in the world while doing so.

  • See potential in others, recognizing those who intuitively understand the functions and are open to functional leadership, rather than ego-based leadership.

  • Develop leadership in others, both by:

    • introducing the functions and supporting others as they develop a leadership practice, and by

    • creating an environment where leadership behaviors are practiced at all levels in the organization.

  • Understand and make decisions about how to structure the world in a way that creates opportunities for people to work together in ways that are meaningful – for great leadership.

To practice this concept in the real world, check out PART 2 of The Functions in Action (SEEING EXERCISE).

Our goal at ReDefine is to share these ideas in a way that brings out the excellence in each one of us and allows each of us to bring out excellence in our groups. Our goal as an organization is to create the tools and products that support you as you build a leadership practice. Get our weekly Substack newsletter, follow us on Facebook, or listen on your favorite podcast app as Redefine Leadership's Short Takes.

If this makes sense, pick up a copy of Redefining Leadership: A Practitioner's Guide, which is a comprehensive introduction to the functional approach to leadership, and a process to become a successful leader.

You can also work with us directly, either through in-person classes or coaching sessions. Contact us at for more information about these options.

We look forward to working with you.

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