In these turbulent times, the challenges for a new leader are many and varied – but one of the biggest can be surviving the early days and making a success of the transition period in a new role.
You’re going to need a bigger boat
A new C-Suite exec often has a vision for the future that is quite different and, to their mind, ‘better.’ This can create uncertainty and anxiety amongst existing senior management and employees around processes, jobs, and the future. People at all levels will have concerns about their roles as the status quo begins to shift.
New leadership needs to be inclusive, rather than exclusive. It’s not about creating a vision alone at the top.
A new leader is well served to bring all senior teams together to help chart the new course for the organisation. Once the vision is established and shared, leaders must empower and inspire employees to want to achieve that vision, and give them the opportunity to do so with both energy and speed.
In the most basic sense, successful leadership is about mobilising people – lots of them – to leap together into a better future.
All hands on deck
Inviting broad involvement from across the hierarchy can create an extremely powerful movement.
In the words of Céline Schillinger, Head of Quality Innovation & Engagement at Sanofi Pasteur: “With the purpose-based movement we have triggered, people from everywhere in the organisation are co-creating the change, and they’re proud to do so. You see amazing natural leaders emerge from deep within the company. They’re bringing their colleagues with them. There’s a totally unprecedented amount of engagement and energy. This is a fantastic human asset for our culture and our performance.”
But stimulating that engagement at every level of an organisation is not as easy as it sounds.
John Kotter, former Harvard Business School Professor of Leadership and internationally recognised expert on leadership and change, has spent decades analysing the topic.
His research found that 70% of change efforts do not deliver the anticipated economies of scale, profitability, and shareholder value. There are two important factors for success: communication as a two-way process, and leadership that does not come only from senior management.
Charting a forward course – a dialogue not a monologue
While a change at the top often leads to a re-invigoration of the business, new leaders must strike a balance between championing the change vision and recognizing deeply entrenched existing structures and processes.
New leaders need buy-in from personnel at all levels, from the boardroom to the shop floor, so they will take an active role in shaping the company direction and putting plans into motion to generate results.
What a new leader can do:
Leadership can be as much behavioural as it is positional. It’s critical that employees facing a change of leadership lean into the change and take an active role to see it to fruition.
What employees can do:
We know that successful change requires many aligned, motivated people.
A connected and committed workforce that is at one with organisational goals can make a leadership change at the top move smoothly and efficiently, helping create a company that is profitable and poised to take on the competition.
To seize emerging opportunities, employees and leadership must each contribute: only by combining forces will the new leader be able to effectively navigate in a sea of change.
By Graham Scrivener
Source: Financial Director
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