Crux of Functional Leadership: How Can Such Functional Leaders Drive Organizations?

What is a Functional Leadership Model?

What is a Functional Leadership Model?

Functional leadership is understood more by practice, rather than taking a sneak peek in the theory. Such a leadership model has flourished in most start-ups, in the modern context. Functional leadership models aim at making a leader a practicing manager while fighting organizational crises in accordance to role requirements. On the other hand, functional leadership actually distinguishes the modern day managers and defines a multi-functional role within a defined ecosystem. On the whole, a number of business models have been created to understand the crux of functional leadership in the organizational context.  But experts summarize that, functional leadership is all about action orientation, and measures the behavioral index in assuming responsibility for action.

Is Functional Leadership very close to action centered leadership?

Action Centered Leadership Model: A Framework

Certain theories have pointed out that functional leadership is closely associated with action oriented leadership in a defined context.

Although behavioral trends define the qualities of the modern day manager, experts from the HR arena, reveal that, the most important task of a functional manager remains to be driving people to achieve effective business outcomes. It is therefore, understood that, such managers should actually contribute towards improving the team performance.

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How is success defined within the purview of functional leadership?

Any leader, for that matter of fact, is understood to be successful, if the team reporting to him performs as per the expectations.

Behavioral scientists, have come up with a detailed explanation of functional leadership, wherein they emphasize, that a functional leader can induce proper behavioral changes within the team members to perform in accordance to organization objectives. It is therefore important to understand that functional leadership is an approach towards performance wherein every team member should consciously contribute towards organizational growth.

How can functional leadership induce organizational growth?

Business experts and consultants agree that functional leadership can contribute to improving efficiency of performance while allocating resources to increase effectiveness of operations.

The theory of functional leadership does take into consideration the fact that the role of the leader is not sacrosanct within the defined context. Therefore, it is imperative that every team member acts in accordance to specified targets and takes absolute responsibility before justifying individual performance.

The theory of functional leadership states that each team member should be motivated from within to perform within a challenging environment.

Exemplary Leadership: Is it an outcome of functional leadership?

Reputed management gurus like James Kouzes and Barry Posner had introduced a hypothetical model in relation to functional leadership.

During the year 1987, the authors had published a book on  ‘The Leadership Challenge’.

In this book, the authors define the following steps to define functional leadership approach.

  1. Show the Path towards success
  2. Ignite the organizational vision in context to individual growth
  3. Take up challenges to break the status quo
  4. Foster interpersonal relationships through employee collaboration
  5. Motivate each team member to the core and do that continuously
  6. Measure success within a stipulated time frame
  7. Give positive feedback to enable individual growth
  8. Build up easy to grasp processes. Bring in a procedural framework as well
  9. Change the models of performance to suit changing business paradigms
  10. Design a business continuity process


Functional Leadership, in the context of modern management, points to an approach wherein assuming responsibility for actions is a mandate. Functional leadership focuses on assuming responsibility for performance while acknowledging various aspects related to an authoritative framework. Most commonly functional leadership is identified with a behavioral trait of a leader, who can influence his team to bring out the best performance within the operational constraints.

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Not an absolute model, functional leadership quotient measures the appropriateness of human behavior to drive a team in achieving certain business outcomes. Functional leadership on a broader perspective can influence organizational growth till a large extent.

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