I was surfing various leadership blogs the other day and ran across an interesting post from Tony Morgan on 4 stages of leadership. Rather than looking at a leader moving through various stages in his/her career, I prefer to look at it as various “hats” that a leader has to wear, given the context and need of the situation.
The first hat of leadership is self leadership. This is a hat for all seasons! Self leadership involves developing the skills and abilities to set goals for yourself, to recognize the points of power you have to help you accomplish your goals and influence others, and to recognize and move beyond the assumed constraints, or self-limiting beliefs, that you’ve created for yourself over the years. Self leadership is independent of any formal position of leadership. If you can breathe, you can be a self leader!
The second hat of leadership is leading others. This hat utilizes various styles of leadership to influence others in order to help them accomplish their individual goals or the goals of the organization. This hat is often used when a leader is in a formal position of authority with direct reports, but it can also be worn by an individual contributor who has to collaborate with and accomplish work through others. A leader in this context needs to flex his or her style to meet the developmental needs of the followers. A second hat leader uses a combination of directive and supportive behaviors to bring out the best in his or her people.
Leading teams is the third hat of leadership. When two or more people are mutually dependent and accountable for achieving a particular goal, you have a team. Wearing the hat of team leadership involves not only using second hat leadership in your 1 to 1 interactions with team members, it involves managing the productivity and morale of the team as a whole. The team leader has to monitor team dynamics and modify his or her leadership style to keep the team moving to higher levels of performance.
The fourth hat is leading organizations. Leaders in this context have to be acutely aware of their own leadership points of view, setting the vision/mission of the organization, the nuances of managing other leaders, and how to implement and manage change within the organization. Competencies of fourth hat leadership involve strategic thinking, innovation, creativity, and having a global mindset.
Any one particular type of hat isn’t appropriate for every social situation. Nor is any one particular type of leadership appropriate for every organizational context. You wouldn’t wear a top hat to a baseball game would you? No! A baseball cap would be much more appropriate. The same is true with the hats of leadership in organizations. You have to develop the skills and abilities of each of the leadership hats so that you can quickly switch between them as the situation demands.
So which hat are you wearing? Is it the right one?