Help! I’m in a new leadership role, what should I do?

A while back I was asked this timely question:

Q: Jon, help!  I’ve just started a new leadership role and really want to make a good impression, what should I do?

A: First off, congrats!

Here’s the deal:

It doesn’t matter how seasoned you are, any time you start a new role, you’re the rookie.  Everyone’s watching you for cues to see what kind of leader you’re going to be.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that the first 100 days are critically important. 

It’s your chance to set the right tone for your organization.

That first 100 days represent the “honeymoon” phase.

It’s the small window of time when you have the full attention of everyone.  Yes, you’ll be under a microscope with people watching your every move.  But this is good news!  It means you can make a big impact…

IF you take advantage of those beautiful early days!

First and foremost:

You’ve got to have a plan.

No plan, no magic.

The best leaders in history have known this…and used this “secret” to win the commitment – if not the hearts – of their staff.  And this all begins with letting your team know who you are.  There may be anticipation – even trepidation – among your people.  Right off the bat, have a meeting with all team members to fully introduce yourself.

Use stories and examples of how you handled past situations to let them see your character.  Be visible.  Spend time where your people are.  Actively listen to their questions, concerns, and ideas. And engage them on the subjects they care about.

In this way, you’ll get to know them.

And they’ll get to know you as well.

Finally, make a point to meet one-on-one with key employees.  I like to have one-on-one meetings with as many people as I can. I want to know the biggest challenges and the most important issues facing the organization. I also want to understand what they think needs to be addressed first.

Bottom line:

The energy you put out is the energy you get back.

If you’re open, cooperative, and show them you value them as humans, they’ll pay it back with insights you wouldn’t get otherwise and greater alignment at all levels.  Get ‘em on the bus first.  Then you can steer.

Anyway, that’s all for today.

Stay tuned for my next post when I’ll go into no less than 7 more key actions you MUST take in those all-important first days to grab this bull by the horns and bring it on home!

If you are striving to become a better leader, get a copy of my Amazon best selling bookI have the Watch: Becoming a Leader Worth Following.

I don’t like that guy and I’m not going to work with him

Let me tell you a story.

I came up through the Navy (and made seven deployments during the Cold War).

Then, I led businesses for 25 years.

Here’s a big lesson I figured out about leadership from my years in the Navy:

Think about a submarine. When you go out to sea, you’re gone for months at a time and you’re stuck with the crew that goes out to sea with you. You have to learn to get along with people because you’re not going to get any new people.

There’s no firing somebody to get someone else.

So, you find ways to work with people you don’t like, don’t trust, or don’t particularly care to be around. Because that’s what it takes to get the job done. In corporate America, it’s easy to say, “Oh, I don’t like that guy. I’m not going to work with him.” Well, in the Navy, you didn’t have that choice!

It gives you a unique perspective.

You learn skills you wouldn’t otherwise.

Besides that, in the Navy, if we don’t all do our job, people die. If the boat goes down, we all go down with it. So there was a real focus on competence in everything you did.

Do you see that in the civilian world?

Rarely.

Yet they’re not that different in some ways. In business, we’re all “in the same boat”. Pun intended. That’s because the success of the business is driven by its people. How much benefit, profit, mutual appreciation, and self-satisfaction for a job well done there is to go around depends precisely on everyone doing their jobs when they’re supposed to!

That doesn’t mean you forfeit your right to fire people if it isn’t working out.

Just don’t be so quick to dismiss them.

People you “don’t like” often have the most to offer.

I know it sounds strange, but it’s true.

A leader’s job is to pull the best out of the jumbled mix of personality types and get them working in harmony toward a goal. And recalling my submarine example can help. Although yours may not seem like it’s a “life or death” situation – metaphorically, it is. You’re just not used to thinking of it that way.

It’s literally THE difference between success and failure sometimes.

And MOST of your success in any venture or job will come from your ability to deal with the people involved.

Never forget it.

Bottom line:

We’re all busy. But you’re never too busy to lead. Take the time to get to know your people, find out what makes them “tick”. Having the pulse on your players and knowing how to engage them is the secret to accomplishing more with less…and the key to survival in today’s competitive business world.

If you liked this, you’ll love my book, I have the Watch: Becoming a Leader Worth Following.

Leaders – It’s Not About You

Leadership is simple. It’s about influencing a group of people to accomplish a goal. The problem is most managers forget about the people, the goal, and their role in influencing others. In other words, they do everything except lead. Maybe this is the reason why 70% of employees are disengaged at work. The vast majority of workers are disconnected because most managers are also unplugged.

Most bosses are just too busy to lead. They are focused on their own work. They are going to meetings, working on reports, replying to e-mails, or checking off items on their to-do lists. These managers are simply too busy to get out of their office and truly engage with their teams. As a result, most employees hardly ever see their managers and rarely interact with them.

If you’re a leader, your actions have a profound effect on the lives and careers of the people working for you. Once you are given the responsibility to lead a team it’s no longer just about you, it’s about them. Great leaders understand this and go out of their way to get to know every employee they are responsible for.

These leaders understand that every interaction with an employee is a chance to lead. They engage in deep, meaningful conversations with their employees and do more listening than talking. Great leaders are sincerely interested in what each employee has to say. These leaders know that engaging with their teams is a critical part of their job.

How about you? Are you engaging with your team? Ask yourself these three questions:

  • Do you know your employees’ names, how long they’ve been with the company, and something about their lives outside of work?
  • Do you take time out of your daily schedule to visit your employees where they work?
  • Do you take time to thank employees, appreciate their contributions, and celebrate their successes?

Leaders – it’s not about you. When you are in charge, you have the watch. You are not only responsible for the results of the organization, but you are also responsible for your employees. Engaging with employees is an important part of your job, much more critical than answering a few e-mails.

Great leaders know that employees who are appreciated, respected, and supported will be more engaged and will always do more than expected.

Learn more about how to be a more effective leader in my new book, I have the Watch: Becoming a Leader Worth Following.