What to avoid as a new leader?

By Will Lukang, PMP, MBA, MASCL

Leader moving to a new organization is often faced with various challenges.   In this section, I’ll touch on what to avoid as a new leader.

Being a bull in a china shop—By this I mean, the leader fails to try to understand what is going on and, based on personal perception, proceeds to change things all around.  By doing this, you will alienate everyone, because people will feel like you did not take the time to get to know and understand the situation.  In the long run, this could cause more harm than good and the people would stop listening or, worst case, leave the company.  Just imagine a bull entering a china shop.  You can picture the distraction and damage that the bull can cause. 

Bringing your band—When there is a leadership change, it is understandable that the leader would also bring a few of their people to help them effect a change.  The keyword is a few.  But if the few brings a couple more people, the people in the company will realize that there are no opportunities for growth, because all management positions are being held by the band.   In this case, what is the incentive for the existing people to work hard?  This is particularly true for young employees who are seeking opportunity to move up.  With the change, it would make them feel like it is a dead-end job.

Not listening to your stakeholders—As a new leader it is important that appropriate time be spent in understanding what worked and what did not work.  It is safe to assume that the reason you were hired was because the management wanted to affect change.  Without spending the time to listen, the leader would not be working toward meeting the management’s expectations.  Failure to achieve any progress over time will cause the management to question your ability to deliver results.

Boiling the ocean—The leader wants to affect change only after a thorough analysis of the situation.  A thorough analysis would require a lot of time.  Sometimes the leader needs to take advantage of the knowledge of the subject-matter experts in conducting the assessment.  There is an old adage that says “You don’t need everything to do something”.  By this we mean there are times we need to make a decision based on the information available. 

In life, we sometimes learn more from the leaders and managers that were not effective, because we learn what not to do.   The experience we gained will aid in our overall development as leader.

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