Beware the perils of the “new broom” leadership style

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Any leadership style that imposes too many rapid changes will increase disengagement

Leadership style makes a difference when making changes or setting a powerful vision into motion.  Organisations spend a lot of time and money in trying to find the right leaders to drive change, unfortunately there is a 50/50 chance that they will fail. Leaders unable to effectively implement the required changes often leave within 18 months. This disruption brings with it with enormous costs, both direct and indirect. Estimates run to 10 x the leader’s salary. This does not include the cost of increased uncertainty and disengagement of colleagues. Ineffective leaders increase disengagement and reduce productivity. When colleagues feel ignored Employee Engagement suffers.

Though poor cultural fit, politics and market changes do play a part many executives hired from outside the firm make a few key mistakes that compound the problems.  In 15 years of executive coaching I have discovered that new leaders tend to make a few common mistakes in their desire to add value, and assure stakeholders they are were the right hire. Luckily there are ways to recognise and avoid these mistakes so that you can become more effective in your new organisation quicker.

Top 3 “New broom” leadership style mistakes:

Mistake 1: Driving a new vision too soon

New executives are often fired up and eager to make changes, after all this is why they were hired. However, there may be valid reasons why these ideas can’t be effectively implemented yetA new vision requires buy-in from stakeholders as well as numerous resources to make it a reality. It is better to wait a few months before making any radical changes. Take time to observe the situation and how the organisation truly operates, and listen to those around you (include colleagues and customers). Before you make any changes ask what else has been tried. You might discover some of your ideas have already been tried, to varying degrees of success. Discover what worked/failed, and why. Even if your ideas are truly new, taking this consultive approach helps to further adapt your vision for the organisation, and gain much needed buy-in. One size does not fit all, we need to learn about the organisation to create a custom solution that will work!One size does not fit all, we need to learn about the organisation to create a custom solution that will work

Mistake 2: Becoming a “When we”

Avoid telling your colleagues how much better you did things in your previous organisation. As the new kid on the block they won’t want to hear how you did things better in your previous organisation until they feel you know enough about their unique situation.  Ask questions, listen and then share your own experience sparingly. If you must talk about alternate solutions, offer them as ideas for discussion.  Allow others to share their opinions, and let them know their viewpoints matter. Remember the wise words of Theodore Roosevelt – “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care!”Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care!

Mistake 3: Trying to do it all yourself.

Initially it can be hard to know know who to go to for help. We often don’t want to look indecisive or weak by asking others for help or advice so we try do it all ourselves. When we avoid delegating work to others, or asking for their input we end up inadvertently signalling that we don’t trust them. This approach isolates us and can cause tension with colleagues. Additionally it means we miss out on valuable knowledge and support others may have to share.  An inclusive leadership style helps increase buy-in, collaboration and increase the chance that our change will be successful. To increase the chance of success in our first quarter, create a support team to help you learn about the organisation and its culture. Nobody can do it all themselves, delivery of a successful strategy requires a team!Nobody can do it all themselves, delivery of a successful strategy requires a team

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Richard Riche

Engagement and communication specialist at One Clear Message
Richard specialises in helping you build real human communication skills.TED style speaking and presentation skills, Emotional Intelligence skills, Employee Engagement/Experience, building high performance teams and a great place you want to work. One Clear Message offers training, consulting and coaching.
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