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Your First Steps as a New Leader

#firststeps #leadership #newleader Sep 23, 2020

I was recently asked what I would do first if I was taking on a new role in a new company.  The person wanted to get off on the right foot and make a good impression.  I thought it was a really good idea to get some guidance and input on this. Besides, starting a new role is a great opportunity to re-invent yourself, leave behind any bad habits or behaviors and adopt new, empowering ones.

Thinking about it, I reflected on past experiences – both good and bad – as well as past observations of others who seemed to make the transition easily and others who struggled.

I believe those who made it look easy had a plan.  They were intentional and very focused on what they wanted to accomplish in the first day, week, month and three months.

As a new leader in an organization, the first three things I recommend is to

  1. Meet with as many people as possible and set up regular touch base sessions with those who matter the most
  2. Ask a lot of questions and listen attentively
  3. Share your leadership philosophy, intentions and core values.

The meetings are primarily introductory at first and an opportunity to ask questions and share information, with the emphasis on questions.

As for questions, here’s a list you can use to start and then, add your own as the process progresses

  • What’s it like to work here?
  • What do you like / not like?
  • What are the biggest challenges?
  • What ideas do you have for improving the job, team, organization?
  • Who do I need to collaborate with to support you best?
  • What are your expectations of me?
  • What do you most need / want from your experience here (short term and long term)?
  • What would have to happen for you to feel like I’ve really made a difference over the next 3-6 months?

And as for sharing, the most important things include:

  • Your intentions, both short term and long term, including any “marching orders” you’ve been given
  • Your leadership philosophy – keeping it simple – top 3 points
  • Your core values – what people can expect from you behaviorally
  • Your expectations, including your accessibility, and what help you need from them

I also recommend inviting people to ask questions, share their insights and observations and give them permission to call out inconsistencies they see or experience.  In other words, make it clear right from the start that you invite feedback and will not kill the messenger.  However, don’t promise this if you can’t do it (yet) and then, call me.

If you can start off by signaling your intention to create a safe environment where people can be honest, transparent and vulnerable, it will make your job so much easier in the long run.  Even if people don’t believe you – at first – you can repeat this message again and again and find ways to demonstrate it.  For example, be explicitly and effusively appreciative when someone actually is honest, transparent and vulnerable and does ask questions or make suggestions or disagree with you.

Getting off on the right foot can make all the difference to your success in your new role -- and also to your self-confidence and overall self-image.  

These are the actions that start relationships off on a good foot.  And I’d love to hear your experiences and suggestions.  Just reply to this email to share your thoughts.

I have helped many leaders create a smooth transition to new positions or prepare themselves for their next step.  This is the part of my executive coaching practice that I especially love.  If you are interested in learning more about how this works, I invite you to schedule a brief call with me.  Click here to access my schedule. In just 15 minutes, we’ll decided together if we are a good fit for each other.



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