Moving to a new job within a new organisation can provide huge challenges to senior leaders, especially those that are in their first ‘big’ leadership role. It’s an exciting time but new leaders these days are expected to ‘hit the ground’ running from day one.
In dealing with staff, customers and stakeholders, new leaders should try to focus upon 3 key areas that may help others understand what is expected moving forward.
- What are the biggest future challenges and issues that need to be addressed and why do they exist in the first place? This focuses on both the future as well as understanding some of the history that inevitably needs to be known to be able to operate in any organisation.
- What are the opportunities for business growth and how can those opportunities be exploited? This focuses on business improvement and growth which of course are paramount to all organisations whatever sector or business they may be operating in.
- What are the changes you would make if you were “me”? This focuses on engaging with the team, seeking their insight and ideas and right from the start demonstrating that you value and appreciate their perspective; after all they have been there far longer than you!
Many new leaders now also consider using a coach or mentor to support them in the early stages of his or her new role and I would certainly encourage such an approach. It is useful to have someone that a leader can confide in and talk over issues and challenges; its lonely being a leader at times!
In the early stages of a new leadership role it’s important to make sure that you really understand what the team is saying to you (not what you think they might be saying) so you can obtain insights into where possible resistance to change may occur, where the culture may need to shift and how leadership styles may need to flex and adapt so that he is able to make his mark.
It’s very important for new leaders to identify some early wins where they can make an impact both within the organisation but also with their team. These can be simple steps like changing work processes, changing the format of team meetings or seeking feedback on a regular basis about how things are going from the teams perspective; whatever it is, it’s about change.
Organisations can run the most sophisticated talent management programmes and selection processes but the first 100 days are always the most critical for a new leader. This is where the work starts, and there is a need to quickly realise change and some form of business result or improvement. New leaders in particular need to make more of an impact and communicate more effectively than ever before; first impressions are so important I’m afraid. Therefore, leaders need to be equipped to act and take a new team with them, breaking down any barriers or resistance to change through dialogue and carefully
listening to people.
Leaders need to build the environment where their team wants to follow them; it’s not easy, but who said being a leader was easy?
by Dave Millner, Executive Consulting Partner, Workforce Science IBM