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Leadership Approach

Find a current business event from The
Wall Street Journal that represents a leadership challenge. Now,
imagine you have been asked to step into the leadership role to manage the
challenge.

Discuss the steps you would take in the first 90
days of your leadership. Explain your approach by applying learning from the
lectures, videos, and readings this week, as well as any relevant concepts from
earlier in the course.

NOTE: Be
sure to include a link to the article you are discussing in your post.

Post your initial response by Wednesday,
midnight of your time zone, and reply to at least 2 of your classmates’ initial
posts by Sunday, midnight of your time zone.​

Click here to view a video about The First 90 Days(R) Online – our new
LMS-based performance support tool. http://www.genesisadvisers.com/introducing-the-first-90-days-online/

My research shows leaders who derail or
under-perform in their new roles often fall into common traps in their First 90
Days. Have you fallen into any of these traps? Have you seen others do so?

Trap #1: Not adapting to the new culture

Leaders who move between companies (or even
units of the same company) risk stumbling into cultural minefields. When new
leaders act in ways that are inconsistent with the culture, they risk
triggering an organizational immune system attack. The result is that they
become increasingly disconnected and isolated from the flow of critical
information about what is really going on in the organization. This further
increases their vulnerability to making bad calls, and contributes to a vicious
cycle that ends in failure.

Trap #2: Not engaging in social learning

New leaders can become isolated because they
spend too much time reading and thinking and not enough time meeting and
talking. Sometimes this happens because the new leader wants to “know” the
organization, by reading everything available, before venturing out into it.
But the resulting isolation inhibits the development of important relationships
and cultivation of sources of information about what is really going on. If
this goes on for too long, the new leader may rapidly be labeled as remote and
unapproachable. Impressions, ideas, and strong feelings about how to deal with
issues are often more important than financial analyses in making crucial early
decisions. New leaders must get out and into their organizations quickly.

Trap #3: Coming in with “the answer”

Another common trap is to come into the
organization with “the answer,” a well-defined fix for the organizational
problems. New leaders fall into this trap through arrogance or insecurity or
because they believe they must appear decisive and establish a directive tone.
But employees who perceive leaders to be dealing superficially with deep
problems are inclined to become cynical, making it difficult to rally support
for change. When employees believe their leaders’ minds to be made up, they may
become reticent to share information, thereby effectively impeding the latters’
learning about broader, more complex dimensions of the situation.

Trap #4: Staying too long with the existing team

New leaders, especially those with a collegial
style, often believe that the subordinates they inherit deserve as much
opportunity as possible to prove themselves. Some perceive this to be an issue
of fairness; in others, it springs from arrogance (“I can make these people
change better than my predecessor did”) or hubris (“All it takes is hard work,
listening, giving them support, and just plain leadership”). Whatever the
source of the impulse, retaining team members with a record of mediocre
performance is seldom advisable. This is not to say that new leaders should be
unfair, expect miracles, or fire people summarily. What they should do is
impose a time limit—3-6 months is a good rule of thumb, depending on the
severity of the problem—for deciding who should be on the playing field.

Trap #5: Attempting too much

Some new leaders try to do too many things at
once, believing that “If I get enough things going, something is bound to
click.” Such leaders are effectively trying to send a message that winners are
active and quick and able to handle diverse challenges simultaneously. What
this approach usually accomplishes, however, is to confuse and overwhelm people
rather than spur them to action. New leaders have to experiment and try
different approaches to discover what works and what doesn’t. But excessive
experimentation can deprive promising change initiatives of the requisite
critical mass of resources and attention.

Trap #6: Getting captured by the wrong people

The arrival of a new leader in an organization
inevitably precipitates jockeying by those who have exerted influence in the
old regime. Among the many people vying for a new leader’s attention will be
those who (1) cannot help because they are not capable, (2) are well-meaning
but out of touch, (3) actually wish to mislead, or (4) are simply seeking power
for its own sake. New leaders must exercise care in deciding to whom to listen
and to what degree. If selected internal advisors do not represent a broad
enough constituency, have skewed or limited information, or use their proximity
to the leader to advance partisan agendas, others might inadvertently be
alienated and valuable input lost. Just as one is known by the company one
keeps, so judgments about new leaders are based on perceptions of who
influences them.

Trap #7: Setting unrealistic expectations

Finally, new leaders get into trouble when
they assume that the mandate they negotiated before they entered the
organization (or in the early days on the job) is the complete story, that it
will remain unchanged or that it represents a blank check. New leaders should
never presume that an initial mandate will or should remain unchanged. Rather,
they must devote considerable effort during the transition to negotiating with
their superiors to clarify their mandate and set expectations. Often, this
means understanding the nature of key constituencies’ expectations and then
carefully deflating those that are dangerously high, while taking advantage of
those that can be useful.

Click here to view a video about The First 90 Days(R) Online – our new
LMS-based performance support tool. http://www.genesisadvisers.com/introducing-the-first-90-days-online/

Why don’t companies support leaders making
challenging internal moves? Check out my new HBR piece to
find out. https://hbr.org/2016/04/internal-hires-need-just-as-much-support-as-external-ones

  

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