How to be more intentional as a leader with many roles

Over the previous yr, leaders throughout industries and all over the world have been referred to as on to put on many hats. However recommendation to them throughout this similar interval—and there was no scarcity of it—has been contradictory. For instance, as early as mid-March when many U.S. cities have been dealing with their first lockdown, the Harvard Enterprise Assessment urged leaders to slow down. Lower than one month later, HBR ran an article urging leads to be decisive and act with urgency

Moreover, some consultants have urged leaders to change into more compassionate whereas others recommended a mixture of empathy, transparency, and aspiration was vital to thrive. Nonetheless others have noticed that pandemic management is greatest supported by elevated agility. 

Given all the recommendation on the market, leaders are taking up more roles than ever earlier than: decision-maker, collaborator, confidante, inspirational position mannequin, grief counselor, and many others. 


A couple of leaders have taken the rising demand to put on a number of hats concurrently to headline-worthy extremes. In early March, the New York Times printed a characteristic article on Colonel Mark Anarumo. Because the President of Norwich College, a army faculty in Vermont, he was so fearful in regards to the psychological well being of scholars residing and finding out in quarantine, he moved into a campus dorm to categorical his help.  

Getting within the trenches to lead can be efficient. Anarumo discovered that spending simply 5 days underneath lockdown in a campus dorm helped him higher reply to his college students’ plight. His college students have been in flip touched by his extraordinary act of empathy. If they’d any doubt, they now trusted that he understood them and was even keen to stroll of their footwear. 

Over the course of the pandemic, many different enterprise and political leaders have additionally made headlines as they’ve publicly donned totally different hats and roles.

When the pandemic hit, Mike McTaggart, the CEO of Quest Meals, which gives meals to Ok-12 establishments and different venues, furloughed over 800 staff. As well as to foregoing his personal wage, McTaggart turned the founder of 4 meals pantries to assist help furloughed staff and their households. He additionally turned a political lobbyist, working with native senators to assist go the Paycheck Safety Act. 

New Zealand’s President Jacinda Ardern has additionally been extensively praised for efficiently sporting totally different hats through the pandemic—in her case, mother or father and nationwide leader. This was first evident when she bought rave evaluations for a press convention she broadcast from her own residence simply after placing her toddler to mattress. 

But sporting too many hats as a leader can lead to conflicts. A leader might want to be a shoulder to cry on, however this will be tough when one can be anticipated to oversee price range cuts, which may immediately impression staff members. Worse but, when roles battle, for instance, when compliance with one position compromises the flexibility to have interaction in one other, stress and risk of burnout often increase

As we transfer out of the pandemic, leaders will seemingly be anticipated to proceed straddling a number of roles. Doing this in a manner that helps one’s group and oneself would require heightened self-awareness. 


To start, take inventory of how many hats you’re already sporting. Discover which roles are inside your consolation zone and which of them really feel like a stretch. Know that stretch roles require more preparation, power, and a focus and that taking up too many stretch roles concurrently can put you liable to burnout.

In case you’re already sporting a number of hats, add new ones deliberately. Genuine shows of vulnerability can be a highly effective manner to join with one’s staff members. But when your potential to present up sporting this hat compromises your potential to lead on different ranges, it might be time to reduce. 

I additionally suggest that you simply tune inward earlier than participating outward. Begin with a private audit of your personal power banks. Calibrate as wanted. As all the time, keep in mind that you’ve got to put by yourself oxygen masks earlier than you’ll be able to safely assist others.

As a enterprise psychologist who works with leaders throughout industries, I recognize the moral impulse to do all of it. As somebody who has witnessed the results of leaders juggling a number of and conflicting roles, I additionally recognize the necessity for stability.

Finally, the perfect leaders are those that can step into totally different roles with out compromising their core mandates or their very own well being and wellness. 

Camille Preston, PhD, PPC is a main enterprise psychologist and the founder and CEO of AIM Leadership, an govt management agency that works with leaders, groups, and organizations to align and optimize human capital to drive scalable and sustainable outcomes. She has helped tons of of leaders and groups navigate the challenges of immediately’s disrupted office. She additionally companions with Blackhorn Ventures and serves as part-time school at The Middle for Artistic Management.