Tread gently at the start

The Life: New leaders of organisations often run into roadblocks when they start a new job. Tommy Weir shares tips on how to be successful from the onset.
From the boardroom to the workplace, a new leader must spend time learning the organisation's culture to foster good relations.
From the boardroom to the workplace, a new leader must spend time learning the organisation's culture to foster good relations.

To ensure victory when you start a new job as a leader there are a number of steps to take.

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Once the nervousness subsides after showing up on the steps of a new employer, many might wonder what they could do to succeed.

All across the region, leaders ponder this same thing, whether they are an expatriate new to the country or locally-born and moving to a new employer on the other side of an emirate.

And it really makes no difference who you are, or where your new position is, because the formula for success remains the same.

Most leaders show up on their first day of duty with a heightened sense of confidence, believing in the rightness of their goals.

I've heard leaders who recently took a new job brag that they were going to go in to a new employer and "fix things".

With their limited insights of that workplace, they assume they have all of the answers.

Well, unfortunately, exuding that kind of attitude does not start leaders off on the right foot. It actually brings about the first round of opposition.

Even if it is true that certain workplace systems or situations really are "broken" and a new leader was hired to fix things, having over-inflated confidence is not appealing to the new employees.

Most leaders fail in their first days, by telling others that the way they have been doing things is wrong. A better way to make an informal change is to start by praising what has been done well. Build their buy-in by focusing on past successes and ensure that going a "new way" in the future leverages those past successes to make a greater impact.

The next stumbling point in starting a new job comes in the form of emitting so much personality that others believe a leader's agenda is all about them and not the employees.

To overcome this leaders need to help their employees internalise the value of any change they ought to make, and rather than telling workers that certain changes are "good for you", show them the changes are also "good for the company".

Simply being selected to be the new leader of an organisation is not enough to yield success.

Spending time learning the local organisational culture will help overcome future antagonism, because leaders will uncover people's motives and moments of pride.

And leaders will also see the organisation for what it really is, not what it was presented as in the interview process or even during their research - both of which can be very misleading.

Keep in mind there are six points to the formula of being a leader when you're the so-called new kid on the block:

- Be humble;

- Learn the organisational culture;

- Identify the key influences;

- Build relationships;

- Build on past success for future success;

- Put others first.

Now, this may seem like a simple formula. But it is easier to read than follow in the real world. A good leader will try to hold themselves accountable against each of these points.

Tommy Weir is an authority on fast-growth and emerging-market leadership, author of The CEO Shift and the managing director of the Emerging Markets Leadership Center

Published: August 7, 2011 04:00 AM


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