Leadership change can be very difficult. It can be hard on both the leader and on the team members who have a new leader. The difficulty comes largely from the unknown. Team members don’t know exactly what the leader wants and what the new expectations are. The leader doesn’t know the team members and how they perform. It takes time to build trust and channels of communication that allow the leader and the team members to all be “on the same page.”
Until that time comes, there are some things a new leader can do to make the transition easier for all. Here are just a few:
- Over-communicate early on. Be open and available to discuss your expectations, your vision, and your goals. Be open to listening to your team about their expectations, their visions, and their goals. This two-way communication will help build trust quickly and will make your team feel more secure, despite the change in leadership.
- Trust your team until they give you a reason not to. You can approach your new team in one of two ways. You can have a positive, optimistic approach where you believe your team is competent and capable, until they give you a reason to think otherwise. Or you can have a negative and pessimistic approach where you view your new team members as under-performers who aren’t going to be able to get the job done. Give your new team a chance. Don’t let your insecurities as a new leader affect the way you approach your team. The positive approach is the one that will build trust more quickly and get your team motivated to work hard for you.
- Show that you care, especially in difficult situations. Take the time to show your new team that you care. Be sure that some of your “over-communication” is devoted to the culture that you want to establish. When you talk about respect and caring and teamwork, you start to build a culture of respect and caring and teamwork. Eventually, you may determine that some of your new team members just don’t “fit,” due either to capability or culture. And while you will have to make some of these difficult personnel changes, the manner in which you make them is critical. If you are humane, respectful, and honest in your handling of these situations, you reinforce a culture of respect and honesty. It is these challenging situations that your team will see and remember most, so handle them with care.
Leading through change can be difficult. As the leader in these situations, it is your responsibility to make the transition as smooth as possible for you and for your new team. Remove the fear and anxiety of your team members by using the simple tools discussed above: over-communicate, trust and believe in your team, show your team that you care about them and that building a positive culture is a priority.
Thanks for reading,
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