Whether you are taking on a new role as a leader or are transitioning from one leadership position to another, your first few months are critical to long-term success — and not for the reasons you might think.
Assuming a new leadership position can be exciting. You can make a difference and use your hard-earned management skills to make a meaningful contribution to the growth of the business. You want to show your boss and your team that you’ve got what it takes. And the way to do that is to start instituting changes from the first day. Right?
Wrong. Stepping into a new leadership role is a matter of “make haste, slowly.”
First, you have a short amount of time — no more than three months — to achieve early wins and gain credibility. Next, you must make positive connections to others in the company, up, down, and laterally, and that takes time.
These tips can help you get established successfully:
Prepare for a balancing act
While making changes can be constructive, doing so without understanding your team or your boss’s expectations could backfire. Plan to take action but take the time to assess and understand how things are currently working on your team, in your organization, and in other teams and departments that connect with you. Balancing observation and action will help you acclimate quickly.
Make time for continuous learning
You’ll have a steep learning curve starting out, particularly if you’ve joined a new company or it’s your first leadership role (or both). Once you’ve gotten through that initial firehose of information, plan to continue learning about the business, the market, your team — and yourself. Things are constantly changing, and you’ll be ahead of the game if you can adjust your actions, decisions, and goals to keep up with changes.
Build strong relationships
The connection to your boss is a priority. Make sure you understand what is important to them and how you can support their goals. Establish a communication pattern that works for both of you. The next priority is your team, both individual members and collectively. Be clear about what is important and focus on developing each employee.
Be sure to include stakeholders in other parts of the company in your relationship-building. Even individuals and departments that don’t directly interact with you can be valuable allies. Pay attention to the activities and challenges of your peers and lend support where you can. You’ll likely have supporters in your corner when you need them.
Maintain your equilibrium
Your transition to a new (or first) leadership role can be stressful, and this stress could hurt your decision-making ability. It can be easy to lose perspective and make bad calls as a result.
Cultivate your ability to step back from the situation and see the bigger picture, avoid making snap decisions, seek counsel from trusted advisors in your life. The transition period is also a time to continue, if not double down, on the personal activities that keep you centered—running, meditating, playing with your kids, or whatever helps.
These tips involve skills and strategies that you can cultivate even before you transition to a new leadership position. Review each one and think about where you can develop, improve, or practice the actions and behaviors that will support your success when that move is on the horizon.
At Riversand, we seek to grow our team in their skills, including growing future leaders. Riversand is a certified Great Place to Work in the US. Would you like to learn more about our leadership culture?
Join a strong global team and a Great Place to Work®. Visit our Careers page to get started.
Saloni Sachdev is Riversand’s Vice President and Global Human Resources Head