A Useful Strategy for Every New Leader

If you’re a new leader, joining a new team — or you think you might be doing that some day — have you thought about your entrance strategy? 

Every new boss, manager, CEO, and everything in between, has an entrance strategy — even if they’re not consciously aware of it. That strategy is how they make the transition from outsider to teammate; how they go from ‘one of them’ to ‘one of us’ — or, at least, how they try.

Some people come in guns blazing, new smokin’ ideas to stir the pot and ruffle some feathers. Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t, largely depending on the personalities and needs on your new team.

Some people come in quiet as a whisper, hoping to keep everything smooth and even keel; in their ideal world, the new team wouldn’t even notice a transition of leadership had ever happened! They want to keep things going as always. Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t, largely depending on the personalities and needs on your new team.

Some people come in wanting to be everybody’s best friend. Work, schmerk! If you can hang and laugh together, everything will be fine! Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t, largely depending on the personalities and needs on your new team.

Do you notice a pattern emerging? 

No matter how you make the transition — whether you strategize or fly by the seat of your pants — your success will largely depend on the personalities and needs on your new team. So why don’t you just…ask them?

Ask them what they want and need in this new transition.

In fact, this is the perfect time to utilize the ol’ “Stop/Start/Keep” discussion. This can be used anytime, and in fact could be part of quarterly or yearly review process, but it’s particularly useful when meeting your new team for the first time. Instead of coming in with your own ideas for how to do things and telling them, ask the experts (the people who’ve actually been doing this) what they believe needs to change and what needs to stay the same. What should this company or department STOP doing that simply isn’t working and is holding them back? What should they START doing that they’re not doing, but know they should be? And what should they KEEP doing? This part is crucial — what is working that they are afraid of losing in this new transition that will cause great harm if lost?

Asking everyone on the team these questions, and keeping track of the answers, is a way to gain a profound understanding of where your new community’s at. Better yet, it shows you cares, that you recognize there is life and expertise B.Y. — Before You —  and it gets everyone talking, so you can get to know them as people and build connections. In one simple step, you’ve gotten to know the personalities and needs that make up your new team. And with it, you’ve gained the insight to know how your goals and intentions will align or cause havoc. Now you’re at a choice point and you get to make powerful decisions. And, at least for the moment, you’ve got a whole team on your side knowing you care.

Photo by amirali mirhashemian on Unsplash