We want and appreciate comments to this blog. We really do want to know what you’re thinking. But, there are those who see an invite to comment as an opportunity to advertise their products and services. Most annoying are those who want us to use their content generation services. They post comments such as “I see you need fresh content.” I really don’t understand the marketing tactic of telling a potential customer their offerings are bad.
Unfortunately, sometimes leaders take a similar approach when they start with a new team. They charge in with a take-no-prisoners attitude, telling anyone who will listen what the team’s problems are and that they are the savior who will fix everything. They make it clear that everyone before them was ineffective or just plain incompetent.
These leaders make no effort to learn the team’s history or culture. They already know everything they need to know. Unfortunately, they often have some success; in the same way the schoolyard bully is successful in obtaining the skinny kid’s lunch money. They see that success as team loyalty, but their abundant self-love insulates them from the fact that the team doesn’t think much of them.
Taking leadership of an established team is a delicate task. Here are some tips to help you get started off right with your new team.
Know what you want to accomplish. Of course you should know what the team is supposed to be doing, most likely your boss has told you what he or she expects, but you should also have an idea of where you want to take the team. Remember though that, until you actually meet the team and get to know its members you don’t have all the information you need to know to finalize a good plan. That’s why the next two steps are vital to success as the new leader.
Don’t try to change everything the first day. Things are seldom in such a bad state that requires immediate changes. Too often I see new leaders, fresh from a leadership seminar or some other training course who feel they must institute new policies and changes immediately. Such immediate change is usually wrong. Be careful with change. Sometimes it’s necessary, but it’s always stressful for the team and getting a new boss is already stressful.
Get to know the team. Watch, learn, listen, and ask questions. As you meet the team, you’ll develop a first impression. That’s natural, but be careful about acting on first impressions. People don’t always have their best foot forward when they meet the new boss. Some are uncomfortable, some are nervous, and of course some just don’t care what you think. Always take the time and effort to dig a little deeper. An interesting dichotomy of leadership is that a leader must always strive to make a good first impression, while never accepting their first impression of others.
There are plenty of people who want to tell you about your new team. Some are trying to be helpful. Some have other motives, but the only way to really understand your team is by learning from inside. Your team will see that you don’t think you know everything and you care about their thoughts and opinions.
Know what you want to accomplish. Carefully consider the timing of changes you feel are necessary. Make an effort to know your team. Leading is challenging but these steps will make it a little easier.
What do you think? Yes, we really do want to know.