I'm relocating to a city I've barely visited to join a new company, and I know no one and have zero connections in my new hometown. To make matters more complicated, I'll be leading a team that has already worked together for years. How can I come in as a total outsider and still establish power in a new place?
Effective leaders build authentic relationships wherever they are, and the best way to do that is to be human. There’s no weakness in admitting you don’t know anything about a new city, and it’s the perfect opportunity to ask your new colleagues for advice on everything from public transportation to favorite coffee shops. You’ll naturally build relationships and learn more about your team as you do so.
Great leaders don’t need to “establish” power. Power comes to them as they paint a picture of a future their team wants to help create and build — people will be drawn gravitationally to a leader with such vision. Before you can do that wisely and strategically, you need a clear plan for your first 100 days — they are particularly important for anyone taking a senior position.
First, watch and listen, and then ask thoughtful questions to get an understanding of everyone’s roles and how the team functions overall. Be clear about the team’s goals have been so you can judge their performance and effectiveness in context. Once you have clarity about the changes you need to make, clearly explain your objectives and discuss how you’ll measure everyone’s success moving forward. Then, guide and support your new coworkers as they start working in fresh and powerful ways.
If you find that there are team members who aren’t willing to help grow the future you’ve outlined, be decisive and make the hard decisions. And get those decisions behind you quickly. Affecting change in a team that’s been together for a long time will be a challenge, but be transparent as to why you’re making the changes you’ve made. Let everyone know when the changes are complete and reinforce for the remaining team that you believe in them and the future you’re all going to create together.
Christine Tardio is a trusted advisor and business coach to a dynamic range of women business leaders. She can be reached at thelookinglass.com.