Sector News

How ‘Today’ Show Boss Jamie Horowitz Stepped On One Of The Three Classic Onboarding Landmines

November 20, 2014
Borderless Leadership
Inevitably executives who fail to onboard successfully into new jobs do so for one of three reasons. They don’t fit. They don’t deliver. Or they don’t adjust to changes down the road. Today Show Executive Producer Jamie Horowitz got fired 60 days into the job because “this is not the right fit.”
 
The Three Classic Onboarding Landmines: Fit. Deliver. Adjust.
 
Fit. No one will follow anyone anywhere anytime until they have earned the right to lead. This is why new leaders must converge into their new organizations before they try to evolve them. The heart of BRAVE leadership is relationships. You can’t lead until you can connect.
 
Deliver. Almost everyone tells new leaders they hire to take their time and focus on the long term. These people mean it when they say it. But then reality settles in and they push their new leaders to deliver over the short-term. It’s not an either-or choice. New leaders must deliver early wins on the way to bigger, longer-term wins.
 
Adjust. Things change. Leaders that don’t adjust to changes down the road get run over by those changes. They key here is to figure out if the changes have temporary or enduring, minor or major impacts. If they are minor and temporary, ignore them; minor and enduring, evolve; major and temporary, manage the crisis or opportunity; major and enduring, hit a reset button.
 
When a new leader fails, whomever you ask why they failed will blame the other party.
 
“He didn’t fit.”
 
“She couldn’t deliver.”
 
“Things changed.”
 
Or, from the failed leader’s perspective:
 
“They weren’t whom they pretended to be when they hired me.”
 
“They didn’t give me the support and resources I needed to deliver.”
 
“Things changed.”
 
Whose fault is it when a new leader fails? Everyone’s. Shame on the organization for not onboarding the new leader right. Shame on the new leader for not taking charge of their own onboarding and getting a head start, managing the message and building the team.
 
In CNN’s Brian Stelter Inside the ouster of the ‘Today’ show boss, Stelter describes how Horowitz “criticized some of the co-hosts” while he was doing his initial listening tour. Not surprisingly they fought back.
 
As the New York Times’ Bill Carter put it,
 
It was widely accepted inside NBC News that Mr. Horowitz had been brought in to push “Today” back to the top. The staff on the show had been expecting that he would institute changes…
 
In situations like this (and actually in all situations), people faced with a new leader have only one question, “What does this mean for me?”
 
Where Horowitz stepped on the fit landmine was in seeding potential changes before he had earned the right to do so. It seems like he was doing too much talking (and criticizing) during his ‘listening tour’ and not enough listening. He got the booby prize and paid the price.
 
Listening Tour Prizes
 
– Last place: using initial meetings to pre-sell ideas
– Basics: focusing initial meetings on listening and learning
– First prize: embracing the idea that initial meetings are all about building relationships. Everything else (including learning about the business) is a bonus.
Contributors, Watchers, Detractors
 
Change agents face three types of audiences.
 
– Contributors who have already embraced the change. These people want the new leader to succeed and will help.
– Detractors are against the change. They either feel threatened themselves or see their colleagues threatened. They will resist the change.
– Watchers reserve judgment. They will wait and see how things play out before deciding whether to assist or resist the new leader.
 
The basic prescription is to lead with the contributors and get them to enroll some of the watchers while getting the detractors out of the way.
 
Instead, Horowitz created new detractors (Morales and Geist) who enrolled watchers (like Lauer) in their resistance.
 
The lesson is to converge into the organization before trying to evolve it. Fit. Deliver. Adjust.
 
By George Bradt
 
Source: Forbes

comments closed

Related News

October 17, 2021

Scaling AI like a tech native: The CEO’s role

Borderless Leadership

What if a company built each component of its product from scratch with every order, without any standardized or consistent parts, processes, and quality-assurance protocols? Chances are that any CEO would view such an approach as a major red flag preventing economies of scale and introducing unacceptable levels of risk—and would seek to address it immediately. Yet every day this is how many organizations approach the development and management of artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics in general.

October 10, 2021

How business leaders can reduce polarization

Borderless Leadership

Rising polarization is unlikely to disappear anytime soon, and it can have severe ramifications for businesses, whether they take a public stance or not. However, by taking a selective and strategic approach, CEOs can reduce the harm of polarization first within their own companies.

October 3, 2021

With so many people quitting, don’t overlook those who stay

Borderless Leadership

The marketplace for talent has shifted. You need to think of your employees like customers and put thoughtful attention into retaining them. This is the first step to slow attrition and regain your growth curve. And this does not happen when they feel ignored in the fever to hire new people or underappreciated for the effort they make to keep business moving forward. They need to be seen for who they are and what they are contributing, and leadership needs to ensure this is happening. The authors offer four steps for leaders to take.

Send this to a friend