Are You Wearing the Right Hat?

Below is an excerpt from my new coaching modules, The 24/7 Leader: Transforming Personal & Professional Life:

Inspiring leaders meet people where they are to help them grow.

Individuals and teams are often in different developmental stages. Great leaders know how and when to adapt their interactions to their developing team member’s needs by acting as director, coach, collaborator, and delegator—and by wearing the right “hat” at the right time.

People usually feel comfortable wearing one or two of these hats, but effective leadership requires all four—and knowing when to wear each one.

Here’s what each of the 4 hats might look like:

  • When someone new joins your team, they’re unconsciously incompetent—in other words, they don’t know what they don’t know—and they don’t know what to do. You have to tell them; wear the director hat and say exactly what you want done.
  • Over time, they become aware of what they need to learn—they’re now consciously incompetent, so they need help and support to think it through. They need you to coach them through how to do something or how to problem-solve to come to a solution. Show them step-by-step how to do it and watch, giving them feedback and guidance.
  • When they graduate to the third stage, they’re consciously competent, but they still need occasional cheerleading and confidence-building. That’s when you wear the collaborator hat. It feels like co-creating and working on it together.
  • In the final developmental stage, the new team member is unconsciously competent; they’re so skilled, they don’t even think about the "how to" steps any longer. At that point, you want to wear the delegator hat—you assign the task and leave them to do it completely on their own. You let them know if they encounter obstacles you are available to help.

The four leader "hats"—collaborator, director, coach, and delegator—are all vital for effective leadership. While different leadership models—servant, mandate, or coach-style—might emphasize one function over another, every leader realistically needs to master and use each one.

Your Coaching Challenge:

Use your Learning Journal to reflect on the following questions:

  • Which hat do I most naturally wear?
  • Where are my team members in the 4 developmental stages? Where's the group?
  • Which hat do I need to wear right now to help an individual or team continue to grow and succeed?
  • What actions will I take to develop my capacity to wear each hat effectively?

Figure out which hat you tend to wear most, and then work on developing the right skills so you feel comfortable wearing all of them!

If you would like to take this deeper, join "The 24/7 Leader" coaching process and peer mastermind. To enroll, please contact us. For more support in your team's development, let's talk: 888-959-1188.