New leader, new organisation. No matter what industry, the default activities for a business leader at this time can often be to head to the nearest profit and loss spreadsheets and get lost in a blur of log on details, swipe cards and senior introductions.
Whilst of course, gaining a rapid understanding of the business “state of play” is important, none of it matters more than your biggest business asset, your people.
I challenge the new leader to down tools, eg the laptop and smart phone, and first head to the floor - not just for a "townhall" meeting but for an extended period of time, days.
Presenting yourself to your team as your true authentic self is an important step in building trust and respect. (and I don’t mean just distributing a photo of you taken with your Labrador either! )
As I keep banging on about, the modern employee wants a leader with humility and honesty; a “real” person who can communicate authentically and actively.* Remember, in the absence of information about you, employees will make up their own so get cracking and let them know you. The business will benefit positively by your presence and your staff will respect you more readily too.
Bush et al, in their book “The Principles of Educational Leadership and Management” describe one of the common traits of successful leaders in the many hundreds of interviews as “applied curiosity.” **
It is your unrelenting interest in your people and then the questioning of the ensuing processes and existing business status quo that will drive innovation and positive change. Happy and motivated staff means better business performance. Quality replicated research clearly demonstrates the link between good internal culture and greater customer engagement too.***
“Seek to understand and then be understood.” Stephen Covey
Learn, help and find out your employee’s stories. Share your own. Listen (I mean really listen) and develop a sense of the type of people you have working in your business. Help out too. This understanding of the roles and people both at the coalface and throughout the organisation will provide invaluable knowledge going forward at your own senior level.
What does the vibe feel like?
How are our values being lived? Are they real?
Is my own perception of culture how it really is?
How do I need to develop as a leader in order to drive the people and processes to create a better performance?
It takes courage to strip off the lapels, deflate the shoulder pads and show humility.
Great leaders shed their ego and appreciate that their staff are their number one asset. They know that creating and embedding a culture of engagement will drive greater profit. Importantly they thoroughly and utterly believe in the value of people and purpose.
Looking for a great speaker or workshop facilitator? Email Lexie at firstname.lastname@example.org
Chandler Macleod: 2015: Shaping Organisational Culture for Improved Business Performance
Gallup: 2012. Q12 Employee Engagement Meta Analysis.
Bush et al: 2010. The Principals of Educational Leadership and Management.”