I don’t know about you, but I’ve been the new guy at plenty of organizations. I was the assistant general manager of a hotel with 130 guest rooms. I was the department manager at a hardware store. I was the general manager at a copy shop chain. I was the dean at a college. I was the president of a college campus. And, I was/am a pastor.
Each of these positions brought unique challenges and steep learning curves. For most of them, it was my first experience with the industry. But, all of them thrust me into a leadership position where I didn’t know anyone and I really didn’t know what I was doing.
I started well in some of them, but most of them, I would say that I could have done them better. Now, I’m in a new role at a new church and I find myself being the new guy once again. I’m hoping I can start this one well.
As I reflect on the times that I’ve had the greatest success (and greatest failure) being the new guy, there are 5 things that rise to the surface as “must-do’s” when you’re the new leader. Here they are:
- Listen. This one is number one for a reason. It’s by far the most important. It should be your goal to listen to as many people within the organization as possible. It doesn’t mean you have to take action on what they tell you, but it does mean you need to listen with an open mind and an open heart.
- Learn. Do your research. Learn as much about the organization as you can. Learn its history, its traditions, its significant moments in time, etc. Learn about what’s been tried in the past and failed. Learn why things are done the way they’re done. Learn about the perception of the organization in your community, with your customers, and by your peers.
- Share. I believe that vulnerability leads to trust – so leaders must be vulnerable with those they lead. Share your story. Share who you are and where you came from. As the leader, people want to know you and know that you’re human too. Share your ups and downs and your failures and successes.
- Consider. Before making drastic changes, consider the impact and consider whether or not it’s a high enough priority that it needs to be changed now. Consider why you want to make the change and evaluate if it is a pure motivation or if it could be selfish in some way. In other words, think long and hard before making change as the “new guy/gal.”
- Serve. If you only do 2 of these, I would suggest the first one and this one. Listening and serving are the top 2 ways to lead well when you’re new. Be a person that tries to serve others, every day. If someone tells you about something that’s not working and you can fix it, fix it. If employees’ morale is low, find ways to raise it. Let the key players know that you appreciate them. Try to remove obstacles and help people in any way possible.
These are the 5 things I’m focused on right now as the “new guy.” What are some things you would add to the list? Head over to my Facebook page and let’s continue the conversation!