Maybe no one says it out loud but when an organization hires a New Leader, expectations are high. Sadly, studies indicate that 60% of new leaders fail within 18 months of taking their jobs.
I’ve observed that New Leaders respond to the pressure of being new by doing more of what made them successful in the past, but the skills and knowledge that got these new leaders to this new level are not the ones that area now needed.
What do New Leaders need now?
If you are a New Leader, you need to build a presence at the personal, team and organizational levels. (If you manage a New Leader, you need to advise, support, and coach them in developing this three pronged presence.)
- Personal Presence — Rather than rely on technical and functional skills, exude confidence that you can contribute to the next level – even if you aren’t quit feeling that confidence yet. Rather than go until you hit the wall, this is the time to renew your energy and get a different perspective; connect with diverse stakeholders; tune into the diverse needs of the organization.
- Team Presence — Rely on the team and not on yourself. Delegate effectively by defining what needs to be done, not how to do it. Accept accountability for many results.
- Organizational Presence — Look left and right (not up and down) as you lead. Strengthen your peripheral vision and know what your peers are doing. Meet with everyone on your new leadership (executive) team to understand who they are and where they are. Learn their history. Establish yourself as an equal player at the table. Ask good questions. Show that you now have an inside perspective of your function which means that it’s business first, function second. It’s time to think strategically. Be aware that you are being watched and are expected to make a significant and bigger impact on a regular basis.
A New Leader’s focus is now on the overall goals of the organization and how they, their team, and their function contribute to attaining those larger goals and objectives. It might seem like a lot of time is now spent listening and thinking more than doing – and that’s exactly what New Leader’s should be doing.