Sally Henderson: Know Your Role – How to Lead During Uncertain Times

by | Jul 15, 2020

Sally Henderson is a change mentor, who wants to share her tools for change that are easily implemented today. Sally created the following framework that she calls ‘The Five Rs’ and is used to drive successful change. Sally has looked into the factors that get in the way of leaders being happy and successful at work:

  • Role
  • Remit
  • Rhythm


Sally believes that the further you move up the leadership ladder, the more mystifying the answer to the question, ‘What is your why?’ becomes. If you were to ask people in your agency, ‘What is your role? – not your job title, your function or what keeps you busy, but your purpose?’ What would they say?

Sally explains she was ‘working with a CEO of a successful and celebrated 100+ people agency and asked him to tell me his purpose. He couldn’t answer the question. If you consider for a moment what impact you have or how you achieve this, it a lot easier to recognise your role in a company. Most people could perfectly articulate their function, but could not answer ‘but, to what?’’

Sally suggests that the ‘why’ gives you energy, motivation and drive.


‘Remit is your what. Most people at senior level cannot distinguish between what their job is, and what it isn’t. They will offer an answer that involves what they do most days; something which becomes quite repetitive and stale for them. Learning your remit will also clarify how to self-manage whilst working from home in these uncertain times.’

Sally suggests that within your ‘remit’ you ‘should have no less than 3 but no more than 5 buckets of responsibility’. These are the tasks you do to get to your ‘why’. ‘You should also be able to percentage weight each one, the percentages of where your energy should go.’

Sally notes that this can also help with job specifications. ‘Weighting a job description can help to hire the right type of person. If a Managing Director job will be 70% strategy and finding a new direction, then hiring someone with a strategic management background will be the most beneficial to the agency.’

‘This percentage weighting can be useful to those assessing their own roles, how has it changed? How does the role need to change moving forward to facilitate the best path? It is also best to share these with your team, so they understand where your time is spent.’

Sally warns that the process will not work if you are not honest to yourself about where you are spending your time. ‘Once you have made your new remit list to implement, she notes that there are 4 things you will need to do:

  • You will have to stop doing certain things
  • You will have to start doing new things
  • You will have to do less of certain things
  • You will have to do more of other things

Now, what will you do, and change, to implement this new remit?’


‘This is your how. How do we make it happen in the real world, when you are being pulled in ten directions?’

Sally discusses how one CEO created a slot in his calendar, that was never moved. ‘It was available for any of his leadership team to book into and to discuss tasks that were not business-as-usual. It was a disciplined rhythm for keeping in contact with the team.’

What is your daily/monthly/quarterly rhythm?

It is important to change your rhythm with each new event, change in climate or business. Keeping it up to date is key to its success.


‘Before communicating with anyone in the company, or before any meeting note down 3 key things that you want the other party to walk away thinking or feeling.’