It’s all too common, upon starting out, for new leaders to find themselves facing an overwhelming multitude of tasks and responsibilities. They’re forced to focus their energies on short-term survival, with less resources available for the relational, systemic, and growth aspects of their roles.
More Than Putting Out Fires
When this happens, spending time in reaction mode often feels like the only course of action. But the first 90 to 180 days in a new role is a critical period for leaders to establish trust with their teams and credibility within their organizations. Placing them in a situation where they’re constantly putting out fires diminishes their long-term effectiveness.
Be intentional when placing a new leader within a department or division. If pressing and immediate demands are allowed to dominate their time and attention, productivity will go down. Instead, ensure you’re informing new hires about the importance of foundational leadership principles.
These principles include:
- Establishing trust and forming positive working relationships
- Assessing and evaluating the organizational systems and processes currently in place
- Investing in the growth of future leaders within the company
As CEO, take a moment to have a conversation with your new leader right away. Tell them that you want them to begin their tenures by listening, observing, and supporting their teams. Their work will far exceed that of a person who is simply required to right the ship.
Setting up a Successful Climb
Building strong working relationships begins with the act of listening.
Encourage new leaders to learn about the lives of the team members they lead and make authentic connections. Embolden them to ask their team members what they like about their working environments and about existing challenges. This allows the new leader to begin the process of making changes with a modicum of shared ownership. Instead of exercising positional authority, they bring their team along with them, resulting in productivity gains.
Why Prepare for the Long Haul?
When you clearly charge a new leader with the growth and development of their team for future roles within the organization, they’re put into a more empowered position. They support their team and company rather than simply issue directives.
You and your new leader also need to create a baseline from which authentic evaluation of productivity and potential can be accurately gauged. The process of assessing existing organizational systems and culture should be inclusive. This supports long-term working relationships between the leader and their team, a dynamic that also becomes helpful later on, when new challenges emerge.
A majority of CEOs find it effective to give new leaders the space to present their findings, concerns, and priorities for next steps. Yes, the present situation might be challenging. Regardless, allow your new leaders to begin their work in a manner that will result in long-term success. As Neal A. Maxwell said, “Never give up what you want most for what you want today.”
Imposing Order Along the Way
If all goes well, your newly hired leader will begin building trust, improving systems, and prioritizing the growth of team members. At this stage, support their work by ensuring improvements in all categories are solidified and codified. In other words, make sure what gets fixed stays fixed!
Nothing is more frustrating for CEOs than to provide time and resources to a leader, team, or project, then have to do the same thing again in a few months’ time. New leaders should know that the investments and improvements they make on the front end of their tenure will remain as lasting improvements. This might seem simple and painfully obvious, but many CEOs find themselves regularly paying twice for the same results by being unclear about their expectations.
Keep Your Eyes on the Horizon
To empower new leaders to focus on lasting points of emphasis over quick and easy solutions, ensure they:
- Have time to build upon foundational leadership principles
- Are encouraged to invest in the growth of their teams
- Have the expectation that their investments and improvements will last
The perceived pressure of the immediate can be powerful. Encourage your newly hired or promoted leaders to look beyond the mountain of challenges and start their journey a little differently. Focusing on proven foundational principles and expectations of lasting productivity will set them up for long-term success, to the benefit of all.
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Tim, with his extensive background in education and management, is a great part of our Fired Up! team dedicated to inspiring teams and leaders. At Fired Up!, our work is dedicated to harnessing the power of culture to equip leaders, build amazing teams, and align operation practices to engage organizations and drive breakthrough results.