How to get leadership right in a new company
Congratulations! You got a leadership position at a new company! You must be so proud? So, what is your first plan? Are you going to shake everything up? Are you going to change everything around? Are you going tell them what’s what? Will you straighten out that sinking ship?
Actually, can I advise you against doing all of that?
When you join a new company as a leader many people have the tendency is to jump straight in, fix all wrongs, correct all mistakes and become a champion of the poor and downtrodden. That seems like a noble way to lead. That seems like the leader that people would want.
But it probably isn’t.
Most departments and teams function just fine without you
Unless you were hired to take on some kind of department that is a hell hole of inefficiency, corruption, and idiocy, chances are that most people there actually know what they’re doing and are doing a decent job at it. Otherwise, why are they still working there? Why haven’t they been fired?
What’s more, they’ve probably been there for a while, learned the ropes, come to understand the politics. And you have only just arrived. Go straight in and you might find yourself strolling a potential minefield of politics, personal fiefdoms, office rivalries and unannounced alliances.
And once you’ve antagonized people, you can’t un-antagonize them. That’s a one-way street. They’re annoyed with you and even if they’re not going to resist you directly, they’re probably not going to help you achieve your aims.
And that is not a good position to be in! Much better to play it safe and see what’s what before you do that, don’t you think?
What’s more, though you might want to be the boss of bosses, what you need to worry about more is not screwing things up. Because let’s be honest about it, though a small percentage of people might say that they stick around in their job because they love their boss, a far bigger percentage leaves because of bad bosses.
So really, you focus should be on not being a bad boss! At least then you won’t watch all the talent walk out of the door.
According to a recent study that means:
- Having a vision
- Lack of confidence
- Empowering the workforce
- Showing Empathy
- Communicating clearly
People like it when you listen
In fact, let’s talk about that last point a little bit more, because though I put it last, it was actually the first and biggest reason people left their bosses. Communicating poorly went two ways, with employees not feeling their bosses shared enough of what was going on upstairs, or that they didn’t listen enough to their subordinates.
So, when you join a new job in a leadership position, instead of immediately leaping in and doing everything, why not start by listening? Especially when you’re first joining a company and you don’t yet have a reputation, sitting down and listening to what people have to say is both a great way to gather at least some information as well as give those that work for you the idea that you’re willing to sit down and hear what they’ve got to say.
Leadership is not a natural ability
This is a vital fact that a lot of people don’t seem to be aware of, with all the focus in the media on leaders that just naturally excel. They don’t really. Most of the time that’s just the media telling a good story that fits into the space of their time slot. Leadership is a learned skill and that means you’ve got to take the time to learn it.
This is why statistics show that 43% of CEOs and 71% of senior executives admit to working with a leadership coach and 92% say they will do so again. They understand they’ve got to continue improving and have to continue to become better at what they do.
And so should you.
Those leaders that are willing to accept that they don’t know everything, either about the department or company that they’re joining or about the art of leadership have a bright future in leadership. They will take the time to understand the situation and act based on the facts on the ground, as well as being able to learn the skills necessary to become better at the craft.
So make certain that you do not let the power go to your head and that you continue to be a human being, capable of understanding his own shortcoming and foibles. That way instead of having to start looking around for a new job and reading up on how to avoid making resume mistakes, you’ll be able to keep your job and grow into that trail-blazing leader that you want to be.
Now doesn’t that sound far more exciting?
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