The actions you take during the first three months in your executive job will largely determine whether you succeed or fail. Foremost among the decisions you need to make is whether to hold on to the leadership team currently in place or hire your own. As you undergo your own assimilation process, what do you need to consider as you make determinations about the leadership that supports you?
Opportunity and Vulnerability
You’ve just been hired. This is a period of opportunity and a chance to start fresh and make needed changes. So you may be inclined to wipe the slate clean and quickly bring new talent on board. And that’s okay – maybe.
It’s also a period of acute vulnerability as you lack established working relationships or a detailed understanding of your new role or company culture. As a newcomer, you don’t have the same credibility as someone with proven tenure at the company. Leadership team members who have this advantage and have achieved successful results are the kind of people you want to hold on to. And that’s ok too – maybe.
In other words, the right solution may be hiring new or it may be retaining the old. Most likely, it’s a hybrid of the two. It depends on your situation, and while you need to set your course and start sailing within the first 90 days, you don’t want to act too quickly or rashly.
- It’s impossible to function at a high capacity without the essential components of interpersonal relationships and networks in place. You need to reach productivity ASAP, but you also need to establish and build those relationships.
- Your most difficult task may be removing or disrupting senior members of your team, although in some cases it will be essential for your success. Tread carefully in determining who stays and who goes.
Find Your Alliances
As you define the look and makeup of your leadership team, identify critical alliances within and outside your organization who can provide advice, perspective and support.
- Hold a new leader assimilation meeting with your current team. Keeping it simple, present yourself and tell who you are, personally and professionally. Share your vision and goals. Have others do the same. This open, collaborative communication removes barriers between you and others and can help ease your decision-making process.
- Build a well-balanced network of individuals within and outside the company. This will help accelerate your learning process regarding culture, market trends, products and related issues – and who can best help you manage them.
Listen and Learn
Don’t be concerned with taking action too soon. Listen carefully and with an open mind as you gather as much information as possible as you finalize your senior staff.
- Don’t step into the old leader’s shoes. Avoid creating a popularity contest if your predecessor was “the perfect boss” and their departure has been cause for grief and mourning. If you’re following a leader who generated negativity, you can’t be concerned with making the same mistakes. Don’t let any of these overtones affect your decisions.
- Seek advice. Use your network and reach out to others. The best leaders are those who recognize their weaknesses and seek guidance in order to make the most informed decisions possible.
The current leadership team may be the dream team. Or not. Most likely, you’re going to need to operate like a new NFL coach: keeping the talent that you see as superstars and changing out the rest. Do it carefully, wisely and thoughtfully – and you’ll make choices that will cement your successful future.