Making Sense of Leadership, Esther Cameron & Mike Green - Book Summary

If leaders were as successful as actors in a play, would they take on that role? In different situations, that role will be shown like that? Does everyone have potential leadership qualities?

Read Making Sense of Leadership, you will find the correct answers to these questions. Not only that, you can also discover your leadership potential in a whole new way from the ideas presented in the book.

By looking at how great people have performed, Esther Cameron and Mike Green identify five roles for successful leaders. Exploring these roles provides important guidance with interesting challenges for anyone. Find the right instructions for each specific situation, experiment and master the role – and you will truly experience your own success!

Who should read this book:

  • Anyone interested in leadership and leadership in organizations
  • Anyone who believes in their own leadership qualities and wishes to develop leadership qualities in the future
  • Managers and leaders in organizations and companies.

About the author
Esther Cameron is a writer and strategy consultant working in the field of change management. With 20 years of consulting experience and 10 years of collaborating with the University of Bristol as an honorary scholar, her pen gives readers simple definitions of complex concepts through easy to understand examples and illustrations. Three outstanding management books that are highly appreciated by professionals are: Facilitation Made Easy, Making Sense of Change Management and Making Sense of Leadership.

Mike Green has supported and advised individuals, teams and organizations on change management for over 20 years. He is the author of the book Change Management Masterclass and co-author of the best-selling books Making Sense of Change Management and Making Sense of Leadership.

Leadership is an intrinsic quality and leadership is demonstrated through 5 basic key roles

As you step up to the leadership position, people begin to have great expectations of you. Sometimes this role is "external", maybe the image of a parent, boss or teacher appears in your mind as a model, you start to behave in their shadow. But maybe you don't have a role model, you work a little harder, you have to "import", that is, try to develop your leadership qualities from the outside.

To identify the 5 key roles a leader needs, we uncover the core roles that successful leaders often take so seriously that things can't be otherwise.

a. Strong Catalyst: The hallmark of this person is that they often ask difficult, sharp questions, detect abnormalities. Strong catalysts work well in difficult, stressful or crisis situations. Typically like Hilary Clinton, Alex Ferguson, Alan Sugar.

b. Visionary Motivators: The hallmark of these people is that they create a compelling picture of the future, energizing and engaging the masses. Through being in groups, they talked passionately, always with friends and colleagues. They work best in transitional, risk-taking situations. Typical as Tony Blair, Howard Schultz, Anita Roddick.

c. Cautious Connectors: The hallmark of these people is that they reinforce and establish simple, focused rules to influence complex activities and connect people. Through the introduction of people to each other they tell people to understand the purpose and boundaries, information about the stakeholders. The cautious connecter works best when there is a complex change, low morale, and bonding of partners. Typically such as Richard Branson, Tim Smit, Sven-Goran Eriksson.

d. Resolute executor: A sign to identify this person is persistently pursuing the plan, directing until completion. They often use the time to research plans, train employees, impact customers, and track progress. They work best when projects are critical, law-making, technology changes. Typical like Vladimir Putin, Michael Dell, Gordon Brown.

e. Wise Builders: The mark to identify this person when they are architects, designers, people who come up with distinct ideas, create organizational mechanisms. They often use the time to think, read, dialogue, sketch designs, present a plan. They work best when organizational change is complex, long-range tactics, difficult processes. Typical are George Soros, Bill Gates, Albert Einstein.

Reaching 5 roles, what do successful leaders do?

Leadership studies since the 1940s suggest that successful leadership is due to the personality traits and personal characteristics of the leader. In 1985, Blake discovered that leaders are task-focused rather than people-centered. In 1970, John Adair demonstrated that leadership is a trainable skill, not an innate ability. The leadership model focuses on three areas: task performance, team management, and individual management.

In 1994, Bennis demonstrated that managers and leaders are completely different. According to him, a manager is to execute, to be a copy, to maintain, to control, to imitate, to make everything right. Leaders are innovative, original, evolving, creative, visionary, doing the right thing.

What do successful leaders care about?

We believe leadership is more about change than business management skills, based on the following five areas of need:

  • Feelings of Insecurity: An important element of change is the need to create a strong sense of urgency and challenge.
  • Motivation: Harnessing the human and talent resources around the organization, inspiring, motivating and stimulating people to move the organization forward.
  • Coherence: Encourages structures that organize themselves rather than impose them, creating communication within the community.
  • Executing projects: Leadership is required to manage important projects, managing to ensure that all necessary resources are achieved on time, on budget, and with the right quality.
  • Design: Inspiring the minds of employees, creative processes and design are well thought out and feasible, ensuring a coherent and long-term strategy.

Finally, we rely on successful leaders, the contributions of colleagues and customers to conclude that leaders are demonstrated through 5 roles.

Strong catalysts recognize uncertainty and apply enough pressure to solve problems

Comprehensive understanding of the role

A strong catalyst is a leader who recognizes something is wrong and points it out, while creating enough tension and pressure to ensure the problem is resolved. They have an extraordinary ability to ask sharp questions, able to unravel tensions and conflicts to lead to innovation.

They are courageous enough to overcome difficulties that are difficult to put into words. They can see everything below the surface. With minimal intervention they can change the course of things.

Heart and soul

Strong catalysts care deeply about getting people right. They are the ones who value this quality in others. They often display honesty and integrity in a resolute and unequivocal manner. They value the ability to break boundaries and confront conflict as a means to an agreed goal.

Inner experience

Strong catalysts tend to detach themselves from a situation and look at it objectively, analyze what isn't working, what needs to be challenged, and then judge people's reactions. Strong catalysts can set the bar for themselves, because too much stress or pressure can be counterproductive.

Strong catalysts have successfully adopted different ways of dealing with conflict. They believe that if a conflict is viewed with caution, it will lead to a positive outcome. They are also able to face the anger or fear of others with a determined composure.

External expression

Natural strong catalysts often walk straight, always fidgeting with their limbs, can't sit still for a long time, often sit facing forward. They play a good role in the crisis. They are comfortable with disturbance and controversy. In uncompromising conversations, they focus everyone on the right thing.

However, they have the disadvantage that sometimes they lack control, put too much pressure on themselves and others, which can turn them into workaholics.

Organizational aspects of the role

The strong catalyst only needs to adhere to the ground rules of the organization so as not to succumb to an opposing point of view. In a company, it is believed that change will have the best effect if it is well implemented, controlled and managed by the right people in the right roles.

A visionary motivator who has the ability to connect people and inspire and motivate employees

Comprehensive understanding of the role

Visionary Motivators start by suggesting a possible future and quickly get others involved. They connect with people quickly and easily, they keep the vision long and strong enough for others to get involved. They act as role models, motivate and inspire, they are energetic and optimistic, and have the vitality and passion to attract people to follow.

Inner experience

Visionary Motivators think about the future with certainty and initiative. They are optimistic and focused on the future. They are often preoccupied with thinking about how they could do something differently. The power of positive thinking will propel them forward.

External expression

They have vitality in every step and often have a smile on their face. Their presence was hard to ignore. They often touch another person's hand or shoulder during conversation as an expression of enthusiasm or approval. They can create an “eager” atmosphere that others feel is really achievable. However, their limitless energy source and constant requirement can cause damage and lose momentum.

Heart and soul

A visionary motivator brings energy to the life of the organization. They are ready to take on important jobs. They like creative ideas, they like to express their ideas in new and engaging ways. They value people who are methodical, enthusiastic, and positive.

Organizational aspects of the role

A visionary motivator must ensure that the vision is firmly connected to project strategies, goals, and plans. One of the attributes of a visionary motivator is the ability to turn problems into opportunities, reframe events positively, and see the bright side of life. They will also help people understand the “what if…” scenario.

Cautious Connectors always seek to connect individuals through important strategic issues

Comprehensive understanding of the role

Careful Connectors influence people in a calm and relaxed manner. By maintaining people's focus on important strategic issues, they always want others to know more about the reality of a situation. They consistently suggest that connectivity becomes a preferred strategy to prevent a potentially fragmented operational dimension.

Heart and soul

Careful Connectors seek to bring people of different backgrounds together for a definite purpose, and appreciate this synergy. Their composure allows their inherent genuineness to manifest.

Inner experience

Careful Connectors never tire of bringing people together. They are interested in capturing the concerns of others and weighing them objectively to find the interests and pockets of energy that help advance common goals and strategies.

Cautious connectors are innately good at staying calm when things go wrong. Experience tells them the best way to make change is to encourage people to talk.

External expression

The connector's posture is cautiously alert and relaxed. They don't sit on the edge of a chair or shake their thighs, nor do they sit upright in a languid posture. They always keep a friendly eye on everyone, they respect other people's space. They can control their emotions well to focus on other people's business, especially they are good at communicating directly.

However, connecting and responding to trouble may not give them enough time to complete the necessary short-term actions.

Organizational aspects of the role

Careful Connectors need to know how to abide by the foundational rules of the organization without sacrificing the ability to share power and grow. The prudent connecter needs to be energetic and lucid. They always encourage dialogue to take place to create a common understanding of what needs to be resolved.

Resolute executors have the ability to mobilize people and make sure everything is running smoothly

Comprehensive understanding of the role

The executor is determined to make sure that everything gets done. They are famous for their ability to mobilize others to serve the plan. They are very logical, good at reasoning, their first tactic is to weaken opponents with convincing arguments. They always stay connected with the progress related to the task, the communication with the relevant groups is all well planned by them.

Heart and soul

Firm executors value loyalty to an agreed plan or purpose. They have great integrity and are completely trustworthy, they are firm and have a high work ethic. They don't necessarily appreciate speed, but rather, they value perseverance, patience, and efficiency. They don't mind putting on pressure if they see that people aren't putting in the effort. However, they appreciate everyone's contributions and live meaningful lives with their colleagues.

External expression

Resolute executors spend a lot of time sitting fully focused, slightly forward, maintaining eye contact, ensuring that the agenda is closely followed. They are ready to move on to the next job as soon as an agreement is reached.

However, staunch enforcers can be a little too forceful when an unforeseen obstacle arises, often preferring a temporary solution, a more mature design. Depending on the level, they can temporarily move things forward and overcome obstacles.

Organizational aspects of the role

Firm enforcers may feel most confident in institutional environments. They seek to break down divides by creating well-planned opportunities that enable people to talk to each other effectively without hindrance. They can get in trouble for being too aggressive with managers and workers or being too strict with customers. They need to focus on exploiting clear and relevant goals through communication and feedback cycles.

A wise builder is a smart strategist with big plans

Comprehensive understanding of the role

Wise builders lead through creating a clear strategy based on original thinking. They are seen as principle strategists and designers of grand plans. They focus and use the information gathered at the present time to build a vision and strategy for the future. They value the depth and accuracy of thought, not thinking superficially. They are interested in developing expertise and competence, so they also see learning as a continuous process that will spark new ideas.

Heart and soul

Wise builders value concepts and ideas. They were seen as reliable and skilled designers of a new world. They value those who sharpen an area of ​​expertise and are highly competent in their field.

Inner experience

Wise builders take the time to consider the situation. They are always trying to build future models where they can manage people with confidence. They are very good at suppressing their emotions. They themselves can sometimes be out of touch with their own emotions. They may favor the inner world over the outer world.

External expression

Wise builders often walk slowly and thoughtfully, sometimes as if they are lost in their own thoughts. They find it difficult to look people in the face, perhaps because they are distracted by something. They are very decisive when they have thought through something. They favor the clarity of human strategies. However, sometimes they forget to consider the needs, desires, and feelings of others.

Organizational aspects of the role

Wise builders can adapt to changing environments. They can recognize the problems in their mind and decipher it and look at the internal characteristics to map out a strategy.

Effective leaders use interlacing of roles with flexibility and clarity

The prudent connector succeeds in complex organizational change but is less useful in redirecting the organizational landscape. The Visionary Motivator role combined with the Prudent Connector role is most widely used by successful leaders. The roles Strong Catalyst, Firm Executor, and Wise Builder are least often used. However, when there is a degree of connection, the use of strong catalyst and resolute enforcer roles work together. The roles of strong catalyst and wise builder have an opposite relationship, where more is used of one role, less is used of the other.

Many leaders claim that they prefer the Careful Connector role in their leadership approach. When people are interested in developing the art of leadership, tend to focus on tactical thinking as well as influencing skills and do not deal with more challenging areas, the leader is less likely to take on the role. Strong Catalyst, Strong Executor and then Visionary Motivator.

Some leaders find the Visionary Motivator the most compelling role model. This is the most common role model followed by the Wise Builder role. Strong Executors and Strong Catalysts don't make good bosses, unless they take on another contrasting role. However, successful leaders use all five roles to varying degrees in specific times and situations.

At different points in the organization, each role represents its own level of effectiveness


When an organization undergoes a restructuring, it can be a painful move. This is a huge drain on operator energy, time consuming, disruption and expense of work life. However, not all restructuring is bad news, sometimes it is adjusted to bring better results. In this context, the visionary motivator role is needed to start getting people involved in the future.

The role of a cautious connector is especially important, as setting new goals requires consensus.

Throughout the restructuring, the Resolute Executor is an important role to play to ensure plans are workable and on time. The Wise Builder role is also essential but often underestimated.


When an organization is hit by a crisis, it's often too late to save everything. However, when the impending crisis is foreseen and responded to before it takes root, everyone will be at ease.

In this situation, Strong Catalyst, Cautious Connector, and Firm Executor are the most important leadership roles. Visionary Motivators and Wise Builders can help mitigate temporary pitfalls.

Changing leading technology

The key leadership roles to use for this change process are the Firm Executor, the Prudent Connector, and the Wise Builder. The prudent Connector role is becoming increasingly important, perhaps because the more complex the technology, the tighter the cohesion.

Process restructuring

Process reengineering comes in many forms, from top-down expert shifts to front-line approaches. The Careful Connector and Firm Executor roles were chosen, which is the most important role that can lead this work.

Mergers, acquisitions and takeovers

Mergers, acquisitions, and takeovers all experience similar root problems when they go wrong. While it is easy to see that the Visionary Motivator role is useful for engaging new staff, the Prudential Connector role can be effective for integration. The roles of Firm Executor and Wise Builder are also important. While the Strong Catalyst role isn't necessary perhaps because the big event that caused the change has already occurred.

Grow a new business

A visionary motivator is the most important leadership role in forming and growing a new business. This is the role with the most positive energy, the ability to be passionate and engaged, and a willingness to connect people in the business world.

Visible change and complex change on a large scale

It is important to note the stark difference between the leadership roles required to lead well-defined convergent change processes (such as introducing new driving technology products or implementing chain improvements). supply). Wise Builders, Resolute Executors, and Strong Catalysts play an important role.

While leadership is required in leading complex, large-scale changes (like changing culture or transforming an entire organization), the Visionary Motivator, then the Second Cautious Connector Next is the Wise Builder taking the main position.

Self-assess yourself with a set of questions to find the right leadership orientation for you

In the 10 questions below, you think and then solve the problem according to your subjective consciousness. Then, compare your preferences with the personality of each of the roles analyzed in Part II, and you will know which roles you are most inclined to, as well as which roles are not suitable for you.

1. Your boss wants you to present at the annual management conference to convince everyone to participate in a new business improvement process that your team has successfully adopted. (Your attitude?)

2. One of the projects for which you are responsible may not be on time. (Your measure?)

3. A major disagreement between two colleagues leading your team has led to a constant argument in the meeting and a lack of cooperation on important organizational issues. (How do you solve this problem?)

4. Some of your customers report that there are some major supply chain issues that you need to address immediately. (What do you have to do?)

5. You have just been promoted to service manager and are in charge of a team that senior management has judged to be performing poorly. (How do you take over this group?)

6. One of the more experienced members of your team is retiring in the next 6 months. (You need to consider how to deal with this situation?)

7. You and your team have decided it's time to take a day away to discuss strategy. (Which options do you choose?)

8. A major partner just released a new product quality guide that you didn't know was coming. (Measures to solve the situation?)

9. You work in the UK and your partner in Germany is using a great online tool to track sales that you like the way it looks. (What is your attitude and actions?)

10. Your boss is demanding and very critical. (How do you solve this problem?)

To take on a new role, start by understanding yourself

To step into a new role, you need to understand yourself. You need access to all of your experience and talents, if you want to enhance your ability to perform well in a group of roles.

Ask yourself important questions like who are you? What do you represent? How do you think and feel? What attracts you? To get to know you, take a close look at the description of the 5 leadership roles and you'll find that there are one or two you've mastered well.

Role playing is more of a perceptive process than a study of a particular character's behaviors. Learning is internally oriented rather than externally oriented. If you want to take on a particular role, you need to first launch yourself into that role.

Example: Imagine a situation where it would be extremely difficult for you to be a Strong Catalyst. Think of all the possible positive outcomes, write them down then go on to convince a friend or colleague that these results are indeed achievable. Go back to the early chapters to grasp the titles of each role and do the same.

Embracing the dark side of leadership can help you face challenges with ease

When you step into a leadership role, your relationships with people begin to change. You can have a lot of friends but you can also start to lose all friends. They may begin to have expectations and fears towards you. At the same time, there is something happening inside of you, which is the “dark side of leadership”. It is the unusual or extreme version that is shown through each role. For example, self-assertiveness becomes bragging; the determination to be conservative; Persistence turns to stubbornness… So you need to discover where your invisible is, by you have to test yourself how you interact with others, make sure the dark side is not should stand out.

Strong catalysts may show more interest in breaking things than building things. They may be impatient and don't want to think things through. So, to strike the right balance, they need to care and receive feedback from the individuals and groups they interact with. Visionary motivators are sometimes overly positive and don't like to hear negative. Sometimes they go to extremes and leave everyone behind to become a top evangelist that everyone else avoids. Therefore, Visionary Motivators need to strike the right balance between maintaining a positive outlook with real life.

The cautious connecter may not focus on the day-to-day goal but only exaggerate the need to get everyone involved. They only see meaning and connection where they might not exist. Therefore, the Connector cautiously needs to strike a balance between caring about the organization's connectivity with the need for an ongoing transition.

Strong performers sometimes push others toward an impossible solution, without adapting to changing circumstances. They lose sight of the target and provide only pieces in the jigsaw puzzle. For balance, they need to practice the art of staying honest, seeing possibilities, requirements, and context rather than acting in completely predictable ways.

Wise builders can become paralyzed by the obsession with making things consciously fit together. They may become arrogant or overly critical of the ideas of others. So, to strike a balance, they must meet with people, view incomplete strategic decisions and execution as a way to start.

The dark side is a normal and natural side, but can undermine a leader's abilities. Therefore, leaders always need to be objectively critical of themselves and need to recognize the dark side of their role, because that is the type of behavior that often manifests under stress, pressure, and conflict that most people experience. We all have to face them.

Helpful exercises for teams to identify and develop leadership roles

Traditional management development seminars and courses allow participants to identify the roles they need to develop, providing opportunities for learning in both reflection and action. Situations like this can be given:

You want you and your partner to be on the same side.

You want to encourage your boss to invest in a new departmental plan.

– You want to inspire a team of volunteers.

Or ask course participants to reflect on:

– Their last important meeting.

Their last job crisis.

About the current boss.

About the previous boss.

About the best partner/friend.


- Competitors in work or in life...

Each issue, each event, each character is illuminated by 5 roles, strengths, weaknesses, and your personal point of view; at the same time consider the views of other students and then draw conclusions. The form of implementation can be answering a questionnaire, making a chart to show your role. Each group presented their best outline, giving everyone time to share ideas about the exercises they did.

Leadership needs to be present at all levels of the organization in effectively aligned roles

Leadership is more than just maintaining top management. If an organization is to succeed, leadership needs to be present at all levels within the organization. We'll look at how you take on a role when you're a senior manager, middle manager or an employee and apply your roles to the task.

Senior manager

Senior managers see themselves as responsible for everything. Seniors in the organization must make their followers leaders by their own authority. So it is necessary to inspire others to give them energy to complete the task. Transfer resources, not force, clearly outline to the organization so that everyone can see their appropriate position.

Middle managers

The middle manager is the one who has to deal with the tension between the senior strategic vision and its practical relevance. They are inspirational, stay close to directors and employees, manage performance and plan, design effective processes.


As an employee you may feel belittled and vulnerable. But when you try to be a responsible person, you always pay attention to question why things are done the way they are, suggest new ways of doing things. Try to align your personal goals with organizational goals, make sure the work you're doing really adds value to the organization, and encourage others to work with you.

Change management

Change managers are often given the role of ensuring that change happens, so they need to impact the right people, in the right way, at the right time. Make sure everyone is making an effort, planning a variety of change activities, thinking through the more complex aspects of the change process.

Collaborative staff

Organizations can outsource or work collaboratively with stakeholder engagement. Roles need to be handled with care when you don't have control over these people. You bring the basics together in a light-hearted way that inspires people, bringing them together in meaningful ways. It is a task to understand how diverse goals are linked and adhered to.


The ongoing life journey gives you the opportunity to take on new roles without prior training. We can all try to prepare ourselves for these challenges. We hope we've struck the right balance between providing some academic methods combined with a practical, practical approach that helps you define the steps for playing roles. best in ability.