New leaders have a short amount of time to tell their story. Leaders are brought in under a number of circumstances – sometimes its a simple transition from one job to the next and other times its because something needs to be “fixed.”
Regardless the circumstances of your arrival, your actions will be interpreted by others and they will tell a story…not a sit by the campfire and listen to the stories of giant zombie white walkers…no this story will be told in bits and pieces- observations and second hand retellings – and it will spin together to form a narrative of who the new leader is:
- He bought us lunch and listened to all of our problems with accounting – A nice guy who cares about us
- A b who keeps talking about metrics and analytics – clearly she doesn’t care about people
- He doesn’t have any opinions and really doesn’t do much – He’s OK but maybe a little wishy-washy? Not sure if we can trust him
These narratives form quickly and can be hard to change once they are established.
Its Imperative You Get in Front of That Narrative and Tell Your Own Story
Define the New Normal
If you want better collaboration across your teams, what does that look like on a daily basis? If you want your customer service team to proactively communicate tell people what that looks like, celebrate it when you see it and be ready to call out when you don’t see it.
Find the People that Support Your Vision and Embrace Them
These are your new ambassadors. Unless someone is actively fighting you, don’t worry about the haters – focus on building connections with those who understand and embrace your vision.
Don’t Look for Low Hanging Fruit
Instead prioritize for the most impact. At first everything will seem like an emergency. It will seem like it has to be addressed NOW. But you have to prioritize for the items with the most impact.
Impact is relative to your circumstances – is your team missing plan? Low quality of service? Review the team’s problems and prioritize from there. If your sales team isn’t hitting plan- start there – everything else can wait.
If you do not lead a team with an easily identifiable metric look at the problems facing your team and try to tackle the problems with the most visibility or solve a series of smaller problems for the team. You can make an impact by fixing high impact problems or multiple small problems.
Celebrate Your Successes
Remember our definition of the new normal above? Now celebrate the people that demonstrate those actions. When you see “collaboration” in action highlight it at your next company meeting, reward those people who are demonstrating the new normal.
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates