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A Leader's Many Hats

by Kathy Cooperman

Leaders face unparalleled challenges today. As they face uncertainty with what tomorrow will look like in the workplace, leaders must forge ahead and strive to lead their teams successfully. The best leaders know when to wear which of their multiple hats.

The Manager Hat
When individual contributors get promoted to supervisory or management positions, they are given a “manager” hat. They are granted authority by the organization. Few people argue with them and their authority to make decisions regarding:
- Hiring
- Setting goals
- Providing feedback on performance
- Disciplining
- Rewarding
- … and more

This hat is also known as the “boss” hat. If this hat is the only one the leader wears, underlings will likely do what they are directed to do, but often nothing more. Workers will comply to achieve expectations but rarely will be motivated to go beyond that—commitment.

The Visionary Hat
Great leaders have a vision of where they want to lead their organizations and teams going forward. They are able to paint a clear picture of what the desired future state will look like and how it will be different (better) than today. They not only strategically look toward the future, but they communicate that future to everyone in the organization. By doing so, they can:
- Create excitement about what can be
- Engage everyone in aligning with the organization’s direction
- Instill pride in all workers by explaining how everyone fits into the big picture

The Mentor Hat
There are times when a leader will put on the “mentor” hat. Rather than directing work, the leader may serve as a wise sage. In this instance, the leader takes employees under his or her wing and teaches them “shortcuts”. The mentor explains how things really work and perhaps shares lessons learned and pitfalls to avoid. Determining the best people to mentor is a consideration for leaders. Some variables to keep in mind:
- Motivation of the mentee
- Amount of time available for this role
- What’s important in terms of fairness and equity
o Many mentors work with individuals a few layers down in the organization who are identified as “high potential” employees.

The Coach Hat
Finally, the “coach” hat is future-focused and anchored in possibilities for the coachee. Rather than sharing lessons learned from experience (“mentor” hat) or telling someone what they should do or ought to do (“manager” hat) the coach leads and guides the coachee to self-discovery. Several skills that make this a unique role:
- Asking powerful questions
- Following a coaching process (beginning with establishing a specific goal and ending with implementing an action plan)
- Using empathy during confidential conversations
- Demonstrating confidence in the coachee’s ability to find his or her own best solutions

Some experts suggest that 5% of a leader’s time should be reserved for coaching conversations with their direct reports. Based on a 40-hour work week, that amounts to two hours per week. Some leaders devote 30 minutes every week to meet one-on-one with team members to continue coaching them toward high performance.

For more information contact Kathy Cooperman, KC Leadership Consulting, LLC,, 1 (866) 303-1996 or (303) 522-2114.

Submitted 100 days ago
Categories: categoryLeader Acceleration
Views: 173