Leading In Dangerous Times

Imagine This:

You have just moved into a new leadership role. One that is bigger, more exciting, and brings with it a great title in a fresh 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. Life is Good!

During the interview process to get the new position you 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. So, you start your new journey with optimism and energy.

On your first day you are meeting the key stakeholders that will be part of your success going forward. As your ears are perched to hear the exciting new things you will be encountering, they pick up a vibe when others begin to talk that wasn’t present before. You are starting to hear some different stories about the current challenges that didn’t surface in the interview process. This new tone and new revelations are a little concerning, however you stay calm because everyone is so glad that you are here and is ready to get you up and running. They actually have been anxious for you to get into the role to make some highly needed changes for the organization. Life is still good…

Times… They Are Quickly Changing

But with the new revelations and undercurrents that exposed themselves very early on, you are beginning to feel the pressure for your new role that was not expected. And it isn’t even close of business on the first day. Those faint alarms bells that began to sound in your head in the beginning of your day are now starting to get a little louder. As your fist day ends, you realize that things may not be what you once expected them to be. Life is hopefully still good…

Feeling Like a Leader?

Because of the new onslaught of unexpected challenges, you go home after your first day exhausted, a little agitated, but 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. You may begin to wonder if your quest to put your leadership stamp on your new role will come to fruition in the time frame you had in mind. 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. But doubt seeps in.

So you ask yourself:

“Are my leadership strengths noticed? Will I make my mark in time to stay credible? How can I show my talent in such an environment of challenges?”

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. So what do you do now? Is there a better way to transition in a new leadership role? Is it more about intentions, or is it more about effective planning?

The road to ruin is paved with good intentions.

Transitioning In a Better Way

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. This will help you swim safely when the sharks appear in your pool.

360 Degree Feedback

  • Do you know what are your strengths and your development opportunities (aka: weaknesses)?
  • Have you been brave enough or had the opportunity to  take advantage of a 360° feedback process?
  • Are you clear on what you bring to the table?
  • Do you 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 derail our plans and seat us squarely on the bench. There are many good 360° assessments instruments on the market that can be a great practical guide to what you are good at and explain what you need to work on.  It is so important to know this to make sure that you are leveraging your strengths and planning actively to deal with development challenges.

Get a Map

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.

Set Expectations

Develop a solid relationship with your boss that includes establishing a set of clear 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.

Be Wise

Get your information from a variety of sources to make sure 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.

Be Patient

Don’t try to do too much too soon as that could be seen as “knee jerk.”  This is not a leadership competency that is valued in the long run.

Be patient; show restraint; and measure your words twice before you cut them loose from your tongue.” ~Tom Schulte

Look Forward

When you are speaking of your earlier 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 carry out 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 map out a successful plan in your next transition so that your leadership skills can shine when it is time? Can you listen like your life depends on it? Hopefully you can: because your professional life does depend on it. What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your suggestions for leading in dangerous times.

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Judy Mackenzie is Principal at
TEVO Consulting Inc.
She can be reached at judy.mackenzie@shaw.ca

Image Sources: masterpiececharters.com, tizinc.com, secure.alfc.com

One response to “Leading In Dangerous Times

  1. This article is so true. I was “idealist” when I first joined the existing company so do my other colleagues. I was trying to change many things quickly and I forgot that I have not stamped my reputation and credibility as yet. I have realized, many instances I was trying to recreate my previous company in the existing one of which I shall not. I am in a different playing fields all together playing with different team players, and I have to be smart enough to realize that much earlier. Now. I am still adapting and learning. There have been up and down, but still manageable.

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