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The Many Hats of great Leadership

Explore how effective leaders and managers incorporate coaching into their other skillsets to unleash the potential of their team.

This posting follows on from a recent article we published The Coach Approach to Management, which you might also find useful to take a look at. In that post, we highlight the differences between coaching and managing, and provide a model that can be easily applied by managers and leaders to improve their coaching knowledge and skills.

Coaching is just one role of an effective leader.

Being an effective leader calls for the individual to wear multiple hats that represent different roles as well as being able to discern which hat to wear when. In fact, the better a leader becomes, the easier they find it to seamlessly swap hats multiple times in every interaction. And, when they do this, the other person or people in the conversation often are totally unaware of the changes but are rewarded by the leaders’ capability as a result.

The hat rack – what the best leaders are wearing.

Here are the main hats or roles truly effective leaders and managers need on their hat rack:

  • The Top hat (Leader/influencer) – needed when others are looking for inspiration, confidence and big picture thinking. In other words, this role is strategic and provides vision for the future. Often too, leaders are ultimately the final decision makers, risk takers and policy makers and therefore need this hat. Whether you are a company director or brand new manager, you will at times need to be the leader of your area of responsibility.
  • The Mortarboard (Expert/adviser/mentor) – both clients and team members need specialized information to build their knowledge and understanding. When others need information to move forward, and the leader is qualified to provide it, they put on their academic cap and provide the expertise required. This also includes mentoring others, providing guidance and experience to build capability and performance.
  • The Hard hat (Manager) – good managers are available, providing support for their team members to complete their work. They plan and manage workflow and monitor team member’s efforts. They also provide feedback as well as advocacy when required, removing barriers so that team members can operate as effectively as possible.

    However, be warned. This role does not tend to challenge and grow others as it is very hands on and should only be used as required. Unfortunately, many managers operate in this role more than required, and as a result, team members don’t stretch themselves, show initiative, or grow as a result.
  • The Sports Cap (Coach) – coaches are encouragers and developers, helping others to source their own potential, and stretching them to be the best they can be. They see potential and help team members reflect, explore and uncover solutions and actions, building capability, accountability, buy-in and ownership, as a result.

When a leader knows how to seamlessly swap hats, they maximise performance for themselves and those around them. They advise, inspire, direct, manage, and coach others as needed to create the best outcomes for their business and their people. Whilst it may appear that leadership qualities are innate for some, there are many skillsets that can be developed to make anyone a better leader.

Call to action – creating a coaching culture

More savvy employees know exactly what an ‘employer of choice’ provides and will seek, and stay with, the businesses that meet their needs. Therefore, make a coach approach to leadership and management a strategic priority for your firm today, promoting a culture where people are genuinely invested in each other and supportive of each other’s development.

The Team at Balanced Scoreboard understand the specific challenges small to medium sized professional service practices face. We also understand the pressure on current leaders to proactively attend to areas such as culture and talent management. Utilising our industry specific know-how can give you the professional edge that attracts and retains quality people.

Contact the Balanced Scoreboard team to find out more about how we can help you develop a coaching culture in your business. We can assist you to deliver and implement strategies for recognising, retaining, and rewarding your greatest asset, your people, and transforming your good team into a great team.

For further information, enquire today via

You can also view our Blog Why Balanced Scoreboard to see what a great Talent Management Program includes.