Leading In Dangerous Times
Over 50% of leaders fail in the first year of a transition into a new role within a new company. Leaders in transition is a timely topic.
You have just moved into a new leadership role. One that is bigger, more exciting, with a great title and in a new company. Change is good, right? You have worked so hard for this promotion and your “Bring It” adrenaline is running at an all time high.
During the interview process you have gained some understanding of what your new company is good at and what they are struggling with. You are feeling confident that you can make the changes needed to move your new company along their stated strategic path. The technology is exciting and you can see how your new company is poised for greatness. You are so excited to be a part of that.
Your first day is here and you are meeting the key stakeholders that will be part of your success going forward. You are starting to hear some different stories about the current challenges that didn’t surface in the interview process, which is a little concerning, however, everyone is so glad you are here, actually they have been anxious for you to get into the role to make some highly needed changes. You are beginning to feel the pressure and it isn’t even close of business on the first day. Those alarms bells are starting to get a little louder. You go home, exhausted, a little agitated and definitely energized. Your plan of assessing the workplace for a least one week is starting to look like a pipe dream. There are just so many issues that need to be addressed quickly and you really want to make your mark right out of the gate. So far you have been able to contribute to a couple technology issues and you think that you have shown some good leadership skills by taking charge. Does this sound familiar? By the end of the first week you are starting to feel quite overwhelmed with the challenges and the lack of time to put everything in perspective. What do you do now?
The road to ruin is paved with good intentions.
Let’s just step back for a minute and look at some steps for a transition plan that might make more sense of your first 90 days and increase dramatically your personal and professional success rate .
Do you know what your strengths and development opportunities are (that is the really nice way of saying weaknesses)? Have you been brave enough or had the opportunity to take advantage of a 360 degree feedback process? Are you clear on what you bring to the table, which means you can choose your next role and not be one of the >50% of transitioning leaders who fail in their first year. Using these types of assessments can be the single most effective method to get you on the right leadership development track. Many of us have blind spots that can be a derailer (put you in the bench) and there is no surprise here, but we rarely know we have them. (thus the name blind spots) Bill Joyner has developed a 360 assessment instrument that is a really practical guide to what you are good at and what you need to work on. It is so important to know this to ensure that you are leveraging your strengths and planning actively to deal with development challenges
Make sure you take advantage of the time before you start your new role to get the lay of the land. Use the human resources group, customer and employee survey data, communications, marketing and any other group that can give you information about the functioning of the organization.
Develop a solid relationship with your boss that includes establishing a clear set of expectations for you and your boss. This is the time to practice clear communication skills and much of that will be accomplished through active listening.
Get your information from a wide variety of sources to ensure you don’t become isolated through the opinions of a select few in the company. These are good political moves that will pay large dividends down the road. Be very careful if you are feeling recruited by a person or group and make sure you understand their motivation.
Don’t try to do too much to soon as that could be seen as “knee jerk”. This is not a leadership competency that is valued in the long run.
When you are speaking of your previous companies, be very careful not to give the impression that you are attempting to recreate your past company within your new one.
Bringing your whole team from a previous employer has a number of warning bells attached to it. This is not a good thing.
Transitioning into a new role is exciting and dangerous at the same time. The bad news is that there are lots of land mines to fall on and the good news is there are ways to avoid these potential fatal obstacles and accomplish your leadership goals. Are you ready to listen to constructive feedback? Can you control your ego to see when there is smoke being blown up your kilt? Can you listen like your life depends on it because your professional life does depend on it.
Judy Mackenzie is Principal at TEVO Consulting Inc.
She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org