Management vs. Team: Wearing Two Hats in Leadership

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As a leader, one of your critical roles is to become adept at wearing two hats: the management hat and the team hat. Each hat represents a different set of behaviors and responsibilities, and it’s important to be conscious when switching between them in order to step into the correct behaviors. In this post, we’ll explore the key practices you must adopt in both management and team and how they are critical to effectively achieve success.

Management Hat Practices

When you wear the management hat, you step into an oversight and advisory role.  Your job here is to effectively read the room.  What does your team need to know and what resources are necessary to get the job done?  The following practices, if executed with conscious intention will both establish your leadership and create a sense of safety and trust for your team.

  1. Determine and communicate a clear vision: As a manager, your first responsibility is to define the vision for your team or organization. This means articulating a clear and compelling purpose, mission and vision that will inspire your team to take action and align with the values and priorities of your stakeholders. It also means communicating the vision in a way that is understandable, memorable, and easily actionable for your team members.
  2. Offer support and create the conditions for your team to take action: Once you’ve communicated the vision, your next responsibility is to provide the resources and support that enables your team to take action towards achieving it. This may include providing learning opportunities, helping your team gaining skills, providing resources, delegating authority, giving them the time & focus to take action and helping them prioritize what actions to take first and next.
  3. Be the team’s safety net in case of failure: Finally, as a manager, your job is to be there for your team when things don’t go as planned. This means creating a culture of psychological safety and accountability where team members feel comfortable admitting mistakes, asking for help, and learning from failures. It also means providing guidance, feedback, and resources to help them recover from setbacks and continue making progress towards the vision.

Team Hat Practices

When you wear the team hat, you step into an action-taking role alongside your team. Your job here is to work with your team to check things off the task list that only you can do.  The team’s job is to take your vision and put it fully into action.  The following practices should always be enacted by your team as well as by you when you step into the Team Hat.

  1. Understand and take action on the vision set by management: As a team member, your first responsibility is to internalize the vision set by management. This means taking the time to clarify any questions or uncertainties, aligning your own goals and priorities with the vision, and committing to taking action towards achieving it.
  2. Gather and use the resources given by management: Once you’ve committed to the vision, your next responsibility is to gather and use the resources provided by management. This may include training needed to accomplish the task, seeking mentorship or coaching, accessing tools or equipment, and/or collaborating with other team members to leverage their skills and expertise.
  3. Report progress of the actions to management on a requested timetable: As you take action towards achieving the vision, you need to keep management informed of your progress. This means setting clear and measurable goals for yourself, tracking your own progress, and reporting it to management on a requested timetable. It also means being transparent about any challenges or obstacles you encounter and seeking guidance or support as needed.
  4. Ask for help when action-taking is hindered or blocked: Finally, as a team member, you must be proactive about asking for help when you run into a roadblock. This may mean seeking feedback or advice from management, collaborating with other team members to find solutions, or requesting additional resources or support to overcome obstacles.


As a leader, it’s critical to be conscious when switching between the management and team hats. This means recognizing when to step into the role of setting and communicating a clear vision, and when to step into the role of understanding and taking action on the vision. It also means recognizing the complementary nature of these roles and the importance of building trust and collaboration between management and team. By stepping into the right hats and right practices, you can create a positive feedback loop of shared ownership and accountability towards the vision. The more you empower your team to take action and report progress, the more they feel invested in the vision and committed to making it a reality. And the more you listen to your team’s feedback and provide support, the more they feel valued and motivated to contribute to the vision.

In conclusion, wearing two hats in leadership can be challenging but also rewarding. By being conscious when switching between the management and team hats, you can create a dynamic and productive environment where everyone feels aligned towards a shared vision. Whether you’re setting the vision or taking action towards it, remember that you’re all in it together and that curiosity, openness, and empathy are essential traits of effective leadership.