Do You Know Which "Hat" You're Wearing?

Most of us in organizations have multiple roles.  Some of us are primarily individual contributors yet may also be a member of a special project team.  Some of us are managers of a functional area yet may also be a member of a divisional or company-wide team. 

Are you one of those people who wear more than one “hat”?

If you are, do you know the difference between “hats”?

Most of us are hired into entry-level positions based on our potential to adequately perform some type of technical duty such as sales, accounting, administrative, engineering and so forth.  We are expected to be able to manage our emotions, our tasks and our priorities.  We are expected to be able to communicate effectively, listen well, deal with stressful issues and get along with others to name just a few.  From time to time we may be asked to participate in team endeavors, to work collaboratively and to support team decisions.

Your “Functional Hat”

If you are ever lucky enough to wall off your own functional area, then your role and subsequent responsibilities usually become somewhat clearer.   Of course, one never works in total isolation.  There are still peer relationships to consider and develop.  The importance of your relationship with your peers is right up there with the importance of your relationship with the person you report to and with those who report to you.  Getting these three relationships right involves bringing out the best in others while working with and through them to achieve results.  In short, you are performing while wearing your “functional hat.”

Your leadership “brand” is being formed every day in everything you do, say, achieve or don’t do or say while wearing your “functional hat.”

Your “Corporate Hat”

At other times you may be asked to work on a project team or be selected to be a part of an executive team discussion involving division or company initiatives or issues.  It is during these times that it is helpful to remember to put on your “corporate hat.”  Here your input may need to be broader than your functional expertise.  You may be expected to take a more global view—where your functional area is not necessarily the center of the universe.  You may be expected to know as much about the critical factors impacting the other functional areas, as you know about your own functional area.  You may be expected to contribute to the business development thought process, ask powerful questions that start strategic debate and to respond with clarity, completeness, conciseness and genuine help.  In short, you are performing while wearing your “corporate hat.”

Your leadership future is being assessed and determined by how well you wear your “corporate hat.”

Why does it matter?

Often times it is easy to lose sight of the exact role you are expected to play.  Make sure you know which “hat” you are wearing before offering your input or commenting on the performance of other areas.  Are you phrasing your questions to broaden horizons?  Are you wording your directives as invitations to greatness?










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