June 12, 2020

The 4 Executive Modes: Which One Are You?

June 12, 2020

The 4 Executive Modes: Which One Are You?

Business Strategy, Ashton Bishop, Culture & Leadership

UPDATE: In a special event, Dr Chris Shambrook of PlanetK2 delivers a masterclass on performance– drawing inspiration from the perspective of Leader, Manager, Mentor and Coach, or what is collectively known as the Four Executive Modes. 

In this interview, the master-coach, author and speaker walks the Step Change community through how business leaders can drive more value into their interactions by moving between these modes. He also talks about the lead indicators of performance, what performance looks like regardless of the mode, and emphasises the appropriate human connection and social support required from industry leaders.

Watch the full video here.

In these times of great change and uncertainty, it is very important that we adapt and utilise the opportunities and resources at our disposal the best we can. This is especially true for industry leaders because every decision has the potential to make or break your organisation.

To begin, you will need to fully define your role as an executive within your organisation by understanding the 4 Executive Modes namely– Leader, Manager, Mentor and Coach

Clearly defining these modes will allow you to understand and seamlessly move between these roles, propelling your organisation to even greater heights.


Being the trailblazer, a Leader is someone who paves the way. They formulate the organisation’s overall strategy and make sure that the team is headed in the right direction.

Key Characteristics

  • The Leader is someone you would follow to a place you would never go to by yourself.  
  • It is the Leader’s job to set the strategy and help people navigate uncertainty.
  • The Leader holds the space and paints the picture of the organisation’s destination.


The Manager’s main focus is to execute the strategy and implement improvements where they are needed. Since the role requires a more direct approach to leadership, Managers are hands-on and action-oriented.

Key characteristics

  • The Manager is in charge of the execution of the strategy.
  • Managers look at performance and come up with improvements on how to use available resources as effectively as possible.
  • Remember that people join companies and leave managers, so Managers should strive to be as skilled as possible.
  • Managers ensure that people are doing the right things in the right way

What makes the role of Mentor unique is that you don’t need to play an active part in an organisation to be one. Being a Mentor is all about drawing from your past experiences in the industry and passing on what you know to like-minded people.

Key Characteristics

  • Mentorship takes a reflective approach, drawing from personal experience and sharing these lessons to others. 
  • Looking for a Mentor means looking for someone who has done exactly what you need to achieve, two or three times before.
  • A Mentor has the ability to explain their thinking clearly.

Similar to being the Manager, being the Coach also has a more direct effect on the organisation’s day to day activities. As the Coach, you should know the best practice in your area of expertise. This also means creating a coaching framework to bridge the gap between performance and best practices. 

Key Characteristics

  • Coaching has close ties to management.
  • The Coach understands the best practices in their area of expertise.
  • The Coach understands the person they are coaching and spots things other people can’t see.
  • Coaches give feedback and come up with a framework that will link the team’s current performance with best practice to achieve growth.

Download the summary of the 4 Executive Modes here.

The 4 Executive Modes

Watch Ashton's video below.

Now that you know the key characteristics of being a Leader, Manager, Mentor, and Coach, you can now assess which role will effectively address your organisation’s current needs. 

With your understanding of these roles, you are now better prepared to put on a different hat when the situation calls for it– driving more value into your organisation even in the middle of constant and drastic change.

So which one will it be today?


Fill out the form to download 'The 4 Executive Modes' pdf here.



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