Supporting a new lead person
Little League International headquarters is in the community where I live. Every year, the nonprofit organization I lead participates with Little League’s Kid’s Day. It’s held in the museum.
Our volunteers set up a table with giveaways for the parents. We hire a couple local clowns to tie balloons for the children and pass out candy. It’s an all-around feel good experience for everyone.
There’s a new lead person in charge.
Mehrdad Baghai, in his book As One says, “Volunteers choose to opt into campaigns case by case.” Don’t feel disappointed when an experienced volunteer opts out. Read my review of As One and leave a comment on that post for a chance to win a free copy. It’s a great book.
When choosing lead people, go with passion. Resist the temptation to pressure a more experienced but reluctant person to take the job, unless you enjoy pushing ropes. It’s much easier to pull a passionate person back than to push a reluctant person forward.
4 Ways to Support a new Lead Person
- Persistently clarify the vision. If you don’t clarify the vision, a passionate person may take your places you don’t want to go. In this case the vision is easy, have fun.
- Avoid hovering over and reject walking away. A new lead person doesn’t need someone telling them how to do everything. On the other hand, be sure they have encouragement and support. The goal is managing emotion not detail.
- Always perform an after action report. What went well? What did we accomplish? What could be better? Who performed well? What did we learn?
- Focus on success. Mistakes blind many leaders to successes. You may be tempted to correct, instruct, or in other ways “add value.” Let the new leader describe mistakes and prescribe solutions. They may see better and suggest more than you.
What do you do when a new lead-person is in charge?
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Hi Dan. Nice post to jarf the neurons on an early Saturday morning. When I am asked by a an organizational member to mentor (the asking vs. offering is an important jumpstart) we sit down and I let them tell me what their purpose, goals and needs are. I let them tell me how involved they would like for me to be i.e provide ongoing constructive comments, be a resource providing feedback when requested, or proactively offering the “better” way. I have found this process to be less intimidating and more relaxed and growth occurs at the pace determined by the “mentee.” This method makes the learning bidirectional and a stronger bond is formed when they feel aligned horizontally and not vertically. It ends up being fun, creative, and usually new friendships are forged and the community of teachers expands. Collectively over time a culture of learning permeates the organization. I believe John Wooten said it best: “How much more could we accomplish if no one was worried about taking credit.” This concept is truly at the epicenter of a culture of ownership within the organization. “the teacher will appear when and only when the student is ready.” Are we not all students and teachers at the same time? I think so. 🙂 Have a great weekend Dan. AD
Al has the Zen/Buddha in gear on Saturday! Great point about asking v offering and I like the mentee/mentor ground rules set up early too Al–I did not do a bit more of that with one person. Thanks for the reminder!
Hey Doc, thanks for the encouragement. Listen my wife is trying to teach me Yoga but alas the only thing that is being flexed is my cranium and I hope the body will do so over years! 🙂 Meditation is great and I have a totally new appreciation for my “breath.” I just finished seeing the PBS series on India. Wow, totally new perspective on those folks and a mandatory trip if I can swing it, i.e. going over to consult on the new ACO ruling. (business expense-clinic pays for trip. 🙂 ) Have a great weekend Doc, saludos, AD
Great Tips Dan! Another one I am keeping in mind at the moment is to Find Fresh Volunteers. So often we ask the same people because we know they deliver. By adding new passionate players to the mix we bring in new ideas and fresh energy while supporting our traditional go to players and not burning them out.
What a great tip Joan. It can be too easy to keep going back to the same well. Your suggestion protects us from running the well dry.
I’m always thankful for your insights. I wish you success with all your endeavors including your leadership of AZBio
It is so true that you need to let the new people lead. In my experience if you don’t let them lead, you will undermine their leadership and they will not be as respected.
That after action piece Dan is important…what would you do differently now that you know what you know.
And, of course, that is the time to ID who/what to celebrate/recognize especially with volunteers, but with anyone.
When you spend that time reflecting (and celebrating) you gain such a valuable perspective. And perhaps don’t gloss over a nugget or two that in the brouhaha of life we might miss. Plus, for leaders, reflection can be a recharge moment acknowledging the path you are on is a good one.
Hi Doc. Knowing is a transition state and the starting point for the next endeavor and in these dynamic times simply the platform for the next take off. The word knowing implies yesterday, today who knows, and tomorrow no one knows. 🙂 Like someone a lot smarter said ” I only know that I don’t know.” The search continues. Best, AD
Makin my brain hurt there Al!
Gotta keep pondering the imponderables!
Appreciate the time tense framework too…very important to our perspectives.
Good post to understand how best a new leader needs to be absorbed in a given work environment/culture. The best thing for any CEO is to invest his time in apprising the new incumbent about the organization’s brief history, its present and the future plans. Critical operational areas can then be briefed with specific management expectations. The management policies on business ethics and value systems part can be made very clear from the beginning. The new leader can then be introduced to all employees with the right medium of communication with full respect and the request to support him in his new endeavors.
HR can then be requested to make the new leader be familiarised with the overall work environment and the type of good HR Policies & Procedures as followed by the organization. The list of star performers and other creative people with high potential to grow can be provided to enable the new leader to form effective teams for ensuring good net results and deciding on newer avenues of growth.
I agree with the author in that volunteers pick the organizations they want to partipate in based on several factors, including the existing leadership of the organization. As an assistant scoutmaster for a local boy scout troop, I can attest that passionate volunteers make the scout experience fun and ensures the boys will persevere to Eagle scout. Our troop is at a crossroads now where the adult volunteers have sons at the Life scout and Eagle scout level and are ready to hand the reins over to new parents with Tenderfoot scouts…. This isn’t an easy task as the passionate parents are few and far between. The success of the troop will remain with the new leaders – whether they show passion or not.
I have found that the best thing that you can do for a new lead person is to SUPPORT. In addition to this support, you also have to be open to new ideas and a possible new direction this leader may take you.
It is not necessary with a change in leadership for your organizational mission to change. “Persistently clarify the vision.” This is a wonderful point. Once you pin point your final destination, be open to new routes that new leadership might take to get there. The new leader may know a shortcut, or a smoother road to follow. Be open to follow the new leaders GPS.
I also like that you highlighted to need to debrief. This helps not only the new leadership, but the organization as a whole. One of the most frustrating things when going into a new leadership position, is reinventing the wheel. When your organization doesn’t take the time to reflect on past successes and failures, you make the same mistakes with new lead actors. After action reports can also give you a blueprint to use when looking for new leadership.
As usual, great post!