First of all, congratulations! Being asked to take over a new area of responsibility is a fantastic opportunity for a leader. The best part of a new leadership opportunity is that it allows you to look at your opportunities with fresh eyes. Everyone gets a clean slate, the people on the team and the leader herself. It’s a situation built for growth and meaningful improvement.
Preparing to lead a new team:
Step 1: Clear your mind of any current judgments, biases, and prejudices you already have about this new team. The biggest gift you can give your new team is a clean slate. This is true because the non-performers will get a fresh start and the performers will have to keep performing to impress you, the new leader.
Step 2: Make sure you understand the expectations for this transition. Why is the change being made? Why you? How will the success of this transition be judged? Who will you need to communicate with? Who all is invested in your success in the new role? You need to know the answers to all of these questions before you can begin planning.
Step 3: Make sure that your previous team is being cared for. What will be happening to them? Have you made sure you have publicized their success adequately? Should someone on your former team be considered to take over for you? Have you said your “Thank you’s”? Is there something you could do to make sure their transition is successful? Remember, it was probably your team’ performance that got you promoted, not your boss.
Here is what you need to identify, understand, and leverage during your transition. This is the big question you need to be able to answer: Where is my upside?
- People who may be in the wrong role
- Offices, departments, or divisions trending poorly
- Market opportunities
- Unrecognized talent
- Coaches who know how to train
- Small segments of the business that are trending positively
Next question: Who on your new team will be brand-new for you? Is this a team you’re familiar with, or are you going to be working with strangers? Brand-new people are a great opportunity for you. Your priorities, communications, and overall leadership style will be fresh with these people, and it will be easier to make an impact.
Also, who are the five to ten people who will determine whether this transition succeeds? And what’s “in it for them” if the transition fails or succeeds? Ignore titles, tenure, and previous performance. There will be a small group of individuals who will be the reason your new team succeeds or fails. It may not be immediately obvious to you who they are. You absolutely need to figure it out before you start making any big plans.
This is just the beginning of things to consider in your new position. Check back next week to learn the 5 Questions you MUST be able to answer about your new team!