Understanding Your Leadership Role

January / 2021
Author: Fran Racioppi


Leader’s have different roles in organizations. Some leaders are the organization itself, such as a sole proprietorship or a small business where the founder is the owner, operator, labor and intellectual property. The other end of the spectrum are large matrixed organizations like multinational conglomerates such as Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, and General Electric. The US Military is the most complex matrixed organization in the world, and by default and design, the most efficient and effective because roles of leaders, executors, and support functions are clearly defined. They are defined by titles, or ranks; they are defined by qualifications; and they are defined by the responsibilities. 

Our first job as leaders is to assess and understand our own organization and the role we fill on our team, our department, and the company writ large. Then we determine what those around us need to be successful; our superiors above, our subordinates below, and our peers across.  As leaders we have a tendency to want to jump in and be the focal point of our teams. The “Doers” of everything. In the Infantry our tagline was “Follow-me.” As Rangers we said “Rangers Lead The Way.” 

Leading is not always about doing it all yourself, or being the fastest, or strongest, or smartest. Most often effective leadership comes down to a few key principles:

  • Setting a vision for the organization 
  • Clarifying the mission behind that vision and the path required to execute it
  • Assessing talent and building a team that aligns with and lives that vision and mission without compromise 
  • Determining the support and resources your team needs to execute that mission
  • Providing these resources and gaining necessary support up, down and across
  • Keeping execution in alignment with the vision and mission; without being afraid to iterate and change when opportunities arise to enhance the product, the process, or even the team. 

There are nine characteristics of High Potential talent: Drive, Resiliency, Adaptability, Humility, Integrity, Effective Intelligence, Team-Ability, Curiosity, Emotional Strength. To clearly understand our role as a leader and get comfortable there we need five:

  • Humility: we must recognize that we do not have all the answers. We must become a willing learner, seeking others’ input and feedback to make more educated decisions.
  • Team Ability: we must prioritize organizational need ahead of ourselves, working as a cohesive unit towards a defined goal.
  • Integrity: we must understand what is legal and right, aligning our actions and words to both, without compromise for ourselves or others. 
  • Effective Intelligence: we must apply our own experience and knowledge to the situation leaning on what we have learned previously to identify solutions for the future.
  • Emotional Strength: we must have emotional control in stressful situations bringing calm to chaos and setting the example for those around us. 

Understand yourself. Understand your organization. Invest in both.



Francis Racioppi, CPP, CBCP, most recently led Genius Fund as the Chief Executive and Chief Operating Officer, a vertically integrated cannabis company in Los Angeles, CA leading operations in cultivation, manufacturing, production, sales, retail, delivery, as well as cannabis and hemp derived brands of consumer packaged goods. Prior to Genius, Fran served as the Director of Global Security for Snapchat where he was recruited to professionalize and scale the security organization across the globe and among all business units. Fran served 13 years in the United States Army as a Green Beret, deploying three times to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn. In 2013, he deployed to Djibouti, Africa in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, where he coordinated Special Operations combating Al-Shabab throughout East Africa. In 2014, he planned and coordinated the Special Forces response to Boko Haram in West Africa, as well as oversaw the operations of Special Forces teams countering the Lord’s Resistance Army in Central Africa and ISIS in North Africa.