To understand what this means, it’s helpful to think about members of the executive team going into each of their meetings without their departmental titles. Or as I like to say, they need to take off their departmental hats and put on generic corporate ones… leaders are not there simply to represent the departments that they lead and manage but rather to solve problems that stand in the way of achieving success for the whole organization. (1)
Lencioni is right. Organizations work best when leaders see the success of the whole organization as a higher goal than the defense of their departments.
I am teaching a course this term for B. H. Carroll on Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians (2). As a follower of Jesus who has been assigned a leadership role on Christ’s mission with others, I pay attention to those God called as leaders/influencers and how they saw themselves while on mission with God. Paul is my favorite New Testament leader next to Jesus because he was called to leave the safety and security of his paradigm of origin to launch a new way of living in the wilderness of the world.
Paul described his role in the Mission of God like a “leader without hats.” In chapter 3 of the letter, Paul described himself to his readers as:
- A prisoner of Christ for their sake (3:1)
- A steward of God’s grace given to him for their benefit (3:2)
- A servant of the Good News of Christ Jesus, which as a gift of grace by God (3:7)
- The least of all the followers of Jesus but chosen to evangelize the Ethnics (3:8)
- Suffering on their behalf (3:13)
Paul was a “leader without hats” because he saw his life as one of service first to God then to those to whom God sent him. Paul is an example of how God-chosen leaders see themselves and how they view the work assigned to them by God. They don’t wear “departmental hats” to defend their turf or budget. They wear “generic corporate ones” (Kingdom hats) in order to complete the mission of God and their assignment in it.
Which hat are you wearing today?
How would those with whom you work and live describe the hats you wear?
Reflect on Paul’s perception of who he was and why he did what he did.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you see similar things in your life and ministry.
- Lencioni, Patrick M.. The Advantage (J-B Lencioni Series) (p. 123). Wiley. Kindle Edition.
- If you are interested in auditing the course, you can register here.