Thriving in the Fishbowl of New Opportunity
Everyone’s watching intently and evaluating rigorously when you step into your new job. You earned this opportunity. Don’t screw it up. New roles, titles, or positions make or break careers.
Rob McCleland, is the new executive director of EQUIP, a global training organization started by John and Larry Maxwell. I spoke with my friend about stepping into new career opportunities.
“Know why you were hired and what you were hired to do. Begin doing it on day one.”
Lead to maintain:
Chances are you were hired from within, if your job is to continue on the same organizational path. The people over you expect things to go smoothly and efficiently.
- Don’t rock the boat.
- Strengthen current projects.
- Build new relationships.
- Fuel fires.
- Start a new initiative that augments current trajectory.
Lead for new wins:
“If you were hired to make change, start on day one.”
I asked Rob about leading to change trajectory, pursue the next level, or turn things around. He said:
- Establish expectation and boundaries with the board and/or those over you, before you arrive.
- Expect a lot; bring a lot. Get your hands dirty.
- Identify two or three top priorities that focus energy.
- Create urgency. Rally the troops around a “crisis,” or initiative.
- Celebrate small wins quick, often, and big.
- Never let others doubt your motives. Act in the best interest of the organization, always.
- Care for your team.
You don’t earn new results by doing the same thing. Current team members may not like you getting in “their” business. Rob said, if you were hired for change:
- Jump in. Change is a hands on activity.
- Remember it’s “our” business.
- Understand what they’re doing.
- Clarify thinking.
- Ensure everyone aligns with organizational priorities.
- Empower people to take action.
- Get out of their way.
- Expect results.
Added resource: “Leading Change,” by John Kotter
What key leadership factors are essential when you are hired to make change?
Good post, Dan, but I would like to take mild exception to one point. Create urgency. Rally the troops around a “crisis,” or initiative. I agree that there needs to be a clear and immediate focus, but I feel it should never be called a “crisis.” That kind of language begs the human being to assign blame. I tell my team to always express a problem or issue as an opportunity. “We have the opportunity to…” That really helps to galvanize support when everyone realizes that blame will never be involved.
Thanks Steven. I appreciate your input.
Perhaps it depends on how bad things are. Nothing like a crisis to get everyone pulling in the same direction. I’ve used the create a crisis approach: http://bit.ly/1buygKu to get the ball rolling.
I loved it Dan!!!!
Chinese definetion of crisis…..hidden opportunity
Who in their right mind don’t get excited about a hidden opportunity?????? Like a new Pony!!!!
That’s right, people not in their right mind!!! OR people using a different definetion of crisis than the Chinese……Daniel-son!!! Hehe
See there just HAS to be a pony in here somewhere, I just KNOW it!!!!
Bring on the crisis Dan, a whole bunch, cool with me.
This point concerned me, too. If change is immediately required, a new manager coming in is surely ‘crisis’ enough for their staff!
Hired from within AND hired to make change? That’s a big scary challenge and yet a huge opportunity.
My two favorite points you made:
1. Empower people to take action. The good ideas are there but fear to act will keep them under a bushel. We can committee the ideas until they die.
2. Celebrate small wins, quick, often and big. This encourages positive momentum. It keeps the ideas and progress flowing.
You always keep us thinking and moving forward, Dan. Your comment section empowers us.
Thanks Dauna. There are some great examples of hired from within to make change. I think Jack Welch might fight that description.
I tend to agree. A crisis is always difficult to rally people around. I have done a few turnarounds, and most people do not want to be associated with this. These are depressing situations, and it is critical to focus on getting the team’s energy, passion and focus back on track
Thanks Rajiv. Turnarounds require a unique set of skills and strategies. Everyone hopes they can keep doing the same thing. But, they can’t. In this case, change can be painful.
Great Post Again Dan! I was wondering what would be the advice for someone who joined a new organization from a different background, as an individual contributor?
Well sounds cool and all for folks who want to keep banging their heads!!
Me, I am preparing to have great, high value products and services ready to help a few of the 3 billion new folks coming into the intraweb in the next 60 months!
5 years of trying to get idiots who will never listen to me at a job(just over broke). Is that my future? Nope!!! For me enough!!!!
So folks can spend the next five years, on the side, mind you, and work on having something of high value and beneficial, on the side!!!! The five years are gonna go by anyway only thing is is where am I gonna be? At a job like 80% of other folks or enjoying my destiny???
The choice is up to me. The 3 billion new customers will be there. Any not me with cool stuff for them?????
Learn to monitize your skills. Brendon Bruchard has enough free videos to understand specifically how on youtube.
Anyways, me back to creating my destiny!!!!
SP. ps. I fully realize I am only speaking to a small small group here. The others will let, “I can’t do anything like that” self talk stop them. That is ok but for the ones hearing me, bottom line, if Brendon did it, I can do it. If I can do it, you can. Just make a decision and START.
“If we don’t control our destiny, someone else will”. Like you Scott, I am in the drivers seat of my destiny, seeking the help of others along the way.
I believe you Steve!!!!
Happy for you as well!!
Remember in The Graduate, plastics….
Here me roar………dual coding!!!
SP. deeply appreciate your sacrifice and service
“Don’t rock the boat” … if you are a good leader, you need to “rock the boat” especially when the business will suffer when not rocking the boat. Senior Leaders who want to ignore good advice from lower leaders are not good leaders. Perhaps that’s why some senior leaders don’t want more experienced lower leaders because they are more apt to “rock the boat” with logical good advice. Some senior leaders will deliberately hire younger staff and younger leaders since they are less likely to speak their mind on critical matters … or not “rock the boat”.
Good morining Dan;
Your choice of topic and timing is impecable. Bob McClelands quotes are ‘so’ true. I am familar with Kotters work. I especially like Kotters (Leading Change Model). It is probably the most effective tool used today by many successful Fortune 500 Companies. This model is an extremley accurate test, used as a tool to identify the traits that often determine an individuals strenghts and weaknesses, while establishing a reliable predictability the person possesses the traits nesassary to be a successful leader. Where one has been and what they have done prepare them for upward mobility. Once there, many make the mistake of resting on thier laurels. Truly successful leaders never quit learning, they never stop challenging themselves to find better ways to inspire others to be thier best. Your people will utimatley be your best resource if you expect success. No matter what profession we are in, IT IS PEOPLE THAT DETERMINE OUR SUCCESS.”Leave followeres out of your plan, and you had better plan on FAILING”. Interpersonal communication Skills, “I like to refer to it as, (Human Engineering)”, become vastly more important as you climb the ladder of success. John D. Rockefeller said, “the ability to deal with people is as purchaseable a comodityas sugar or coffee. And I shall pay more for that ability than any other under the sun”. If leaders are to capitalize on thier greatest asset, we must rediscover the importance of fundamental relationships between human beings. (THE ONLY TIME) a leader should ever look down on thier people is to ‘give them a hand-up’.
I have a few war wounds from trying to initiate change without others seeing the “burning platform” or “melting iceberg.” I was just given a huge opportunity at work with tremendous responsibility. Thank you for reminding me to celebrate the small wins. We just had one yesterday, and I need to let the COO know so we can celebrate!
Interesting observations about ‘crisis’ perceptions. Words are so powerful… Crisis has some negative colorings to it and for a noob leader to come in declare a crisis (without advance prep by those who hired) might have a deleterious effect and create future tendencies for others to dismiss that leader’s statements as extremist or unnecessary drama…unless it really is a crisis.Creating a sense of urgency requires alignment with values and probably some serious introspection on where the organization is misaligned. How serious, what level of def con are we at would be a worthwhile discussion early on.
I also had a level of discomfort with Mr. McCleland’s make changes on day one. It might depend on the leadership context that you are in. If you are a known entity or ‘outsider’, significant contrasts there. The qualifier I might add would be make changes in processes that are clearly within your domain that reflect a new way of thinking. How you facilitate a meeting, defining content and expectations of interactions, and of course sharing your values that are aligned with what the organization hopes to be. Those dialogues (not monologues) are key early on in setting up a learning environment of continuous improvement that keeps the customer in the forefront of any interaction.
Your #2 New Wins is key…get your hands dirty, bring yourself, bring a lot and expect a lot of yourself and others….AND listen a lot as you get your hands dirty. Early on is the best time to get to know what is happening ‘boots on the ground’ rather than getting ensconced in all things C level (that will happen anyway). Setting a priority to learn to know what is really going on pays dividends over the long term. Setting that priority with those you immediately supervise sets a whole different tone to operations and clarifies organizational values.
Going back to the urgency point, this quote from A. Einstein seems cogent… “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
Crisis leadership and management is sort-of like the 11th hour term paper we’ve all written: It’s when we get things done. Period! No more excuses, and certainly no more reasons if there ever were. There’s no more time…except to rally. It’s either publish or perish… do or die! And what’s usually the result? A great effort.
I actually believe in crisis management in the workplace. And more than anything, I believe in the persons on staff to handle things. I trust them to come if and when they need something. And I believe most staff members can take my position at any time and do as well or better than myself. I know it and they know it.
Rick thats just ‘gosh darn good stuff’! I totally agree with one of your last statements regarding others performing the respondsabilities of your position. Not enough of todays leaders groom someone to take thier place. That approach may protect your position for awhile, but not for long. I’ve always felt that for anyone to move up the ladder, you had better prepared someone to take your place… If I may ask Rick, what profession are you retiring from?
Hey, Steve, and thank you. I enjoy your comments very much also. My profession was clinical medicine, as well as
University Medical School Chancellor, and Chief of a University Medical Center. At the same time, I saw a need for physician department directors to gain management insights, so I created and launched a medical management journal. Now, I’m 57, stepped aside, loving life, and learning from you guys…and I really mean that. Blessings…rick
Rick you should be proud of your career and the contribution you’ve made toward real authentic leadership. I wish you the best in your retirement years. I’ll leave you with this. An old-timer who once worked for me in the Steel industry always said, “it’s only rite that a man get to enjoy as many years of retirement as it took him to get there”. God speed Rick, & Thank you!
Dr Rick I concur with Steve!
Just shows how on target Simon Sinek is!!!
Work with those who believe what you believe.
Same topic today, four responses. Two from “towards” people and two from “away” people.
Two saw crisis and thought CHARGE!!! Two thought, run away!!!
Neither good or bad, just different.
Can u imagine how life would be for me as a Charge guy if I worked with the run away guys??
So critical to work with those who believe what we believe. It is not about one good, one bad! It is about working with folks who in their gut see the world the way we do.
Just ignoring this results in 80% employee disengagement… DUH!
Dr Rick I am on a MISSION to help 1 Million kids in the USA, Steve Drake you too.
I see their math and science comprehension scores and it almost makes me physically ill. Plus, what about the future of America if our kids stay at 28th and 31st?????????
I have a way to help. Absolute, i did it myself. Improved on a test 28 points in less that 30 days doing what I want to share with others. What would a 28 point improvement in grades mean to a kids life?
What would it mean to America if 1 million kids did 28 points better? Are you hearing me?????
If you hear me my email is connected here.
Resistance to change is tough to overcome. Each person will have their own individual driver for changing. A key leadership factor to allow for change is understanding individualism and adapting your message or initiative to address all levels of the organization.
P.S. Dan; Just before I left work today a Superior engaged me in conversation regarding our Leadership Project. Thier tone was clearly negative due to one simple fact. He does not believe that good logical advice on how to be a better leader could possibly come from a subordinate. Instead of focusing on the personal and professional fulfillment and developementof his staff members I believe he’s allowed envey and what I percieved as an atitude of entitlement to cloud his judgement. “THE TYPICAL AUTOCRATIC RESPONCE”. Nobody said it would be easy. This was an excellant opportunity for me to practice humility, “it wasn’t easy”!!! Steven
Change ! Crisis! All sounds very fearful to an individual. No one likes change. It brings a whole load of uncertainties that one cannot understand. Everyone likes life to be smooth flowing with no panic attacks. So what do we do about change? Instead of having those around us feeling fearful, I suggest a more positive approach. Take it as an opportunity to progress further and be the first to initiate a better perspective and a better future. Once a leader is able to motivate each and every one around him/her that these positive attitudes and behaviour would benefit everyone- who would not like change!