CEO to CEO: Making Sure the Hats Fit

By /
Dec 1, 2014

What’s one tip you can share with someone who struggles to wear multiple hats?

Ann Turner

Ann Turner, Ph.D., FASAE, CAE

Executive Director, American Association for Laboratory Animal Science and the AALAS Foundation, Memphis, Tennessee

Share the hats! Executives think we are the only ones who can make a decision, complete a task, represent the association, lead a project, and carry out all the other activities that require a hat. Sometimes that is true: We are the ones who must wear the hats. But in other cases, we need to learn to let go and to prepare and trust someone else to wear the hat.

G. Lawrence Merrill

G. Lawrence Merrill

Executive Director, Michigan Townships Association, Lansing, Michigan

Who doesn’t struggle with wearing multiple hats? Be aware which hat you are wearing at any given time, and wear only one hat at any given time. Choose hats that reflect the person you want to be. Some hats cannot ethically be worn with others. Don’t let wearing one hat relegate a more important hat to the back of the closet. Don’t wear any hat that fits poorly, isn’t comfortable, or makes you look like somebody you are not.

Nancy Aebersold

Nancy Aebersold

Founder and Executive Director, Higher Education Recruitment Consortium, San Francisco

Identify and name each hat. Within each hat, list your priorities and always make sure your hats are tied to your strategic plan. If you’re struggling with a project in one hat, you can always try on another to get a break and a fresh perspective. Also, identifying your hats and priorities will help you see more clearly whether there are areas that can be delegated or reassigned to others in your organization or whether there’s a staffing need.

Tom Hendricks

Tom Hendricks

President and CEO, National Air Transportation Association, Alexandria, Virginia

Wearing multiple hats requires a high degree of compartmentalization and organization. To manage time appropriately, keeping control of the calendar is the first order of business. However, finding yourself in this situation also provides a great opportunity: Days only last 24 hours, so leaders need to acutely focus on the most compelling matters. This raising up of priorities drives a more strategic view of existing areas of focus.

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