114. The Biggest Mistake New Leaders Make
Episode 114: The Biggest Mistake New Leaders Make (Summary)
I want you to imagine that you’ve just sat down at a restaurant for a dinner out with your family. Now, imagine that the waiter came to the table, introduced himself, and then announced what you would be having for dinner. How would you react? You’d probably be shocked, right? And you’d probably object. “No, I’m not having the steak because I’m a vegetarian.” Now, imagine that when you started to speak up, the waiter cut you off and said, “Listen, I know that you don’t know me very well, but I know what I’m doing, and this is the way it’s going to be.” At that point, you’re outta there, right? I mean, you’re gone. Believe it or not, leaders stepping into new roles do exactly this over and over again when they implement change too quickly and without the support of the people working there. Grab your doggy bag and follow me as we fix the biggest mistake leaders make with a new team or in a new role. Check, please!
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*Full transcript under the comments below.
Transcript – Episode 114: The Biggest Mistake New Leaders Make
Hey there, BossHeroes. I’m taking a little break from the show this summer, but fear not because we’ve got a whole schedule of content you’ve not heard before. While I recharge my batteries, we’ve decided to share the episodes of a short but popular YouTube series I did a few years ago on how bosses cultivate commitment in the workplace. So, every other Sunday through the end of the summer, you’ll hear these quick funny lessons on how to inspire teams, get results, and be a boss that people don’t hate. You’ll even get to hear the old rock theme music we used and some recording bloopers at the end. Enjoy, and thanks for all that you do to care for so many.
I want you to imagine that you’ve just sat down at a restaurant for a dinner out with your family. Now, imagine that the waiter came to the table, introduced himself, and then announced what you would be having for dinner. How would you react? You’d probably be shocked, right? And you’d probably object, no, I’m not having the steak because I’m a vegetarian. Now, imagine that when you started to speak up, the waiter cut you off and said, listen, I know that you don’t know me very well, but I know what I’m doing, and this is the way it’s going to be. At that point, you’re outta there, right? I mean, you’re gone. Believe it or not, leaders stepping into new roles do exactly this over and over again when they implement change too quickly and without the support of the people working there. Grab your doggy bag and follow me as we fix the biggest mistake leaders make with a new team or in a new role. Check please!
I’m constantly baffled when leaders step into a new role and attack change immediately. While there are some circumstances where this is necessary, most of the time it creates some problems. Think back to the last time you had a new leader overseeing your department or your work. I’m willing to bet that your opinion of them was most influenced by when, where, and how they implemented change after they arrived. When a leader with little institutional memory or knowledge arrives and starts changing things immediately, it’s gonna spook the crap out of people. Change removes perceptions of stability, competence, and predictability, which in turn leads their performance to be driven by fear rather than by purpose. And when fear drives performance, all sorts of icky stuff creeps in. Self-preservation, blaming, scorekeeping, unhealthy conflict, disengagement, and more.
So, what should you do? If you are a leader in a new role who arrives and sees that there is a change needed immediately you do what that restaurant waiter should have done after approaching your family at their table. Hi, my name is Joe. I’ll be taking care of you tonight. Can I interest you in something to drink? In other words, the leader needs to take just a little bit of time to introduce him or herself to the team to be clear about their intentions and to ask about people’s needs. Now, let me be clear. Implementing change quickly isn’t a sin. It’s doing so without gathering perspective or nurturing buy-in and support that does harm. What should you do instead? Ask, listen, learn. Do these things first. Then when the time comes to start changing things, pull your team together and share your priorities and concerns.
Tell them, here’s the direction I’m heading. But I believe mandating change from the top down is usually bad strategy. I want us to do this together. I need you to help me understand what I don’t know. Even if you ultimately implement change that they don’t agree with as a leader, this approach makes it more likely that they’ll commit anyway because they understand your intentions and because you invited them to inform the process. So, there you have it. Hey, if you thought this video was the bees’ knees and it kinda was, do two things for me. Pretty please first, leave a comment in the box below, and second, please share this with your audience, with your network on whatever platform you found it. Thanks for watching. See you next time.
Joe (Keynote Ad):
Are you planning a meeting or event? Why not have me join you as your keynote speaker?
Joe (Clip from Live Keynote):
Employalty is employer loyalty and humanity. It’s a commitment to creating a more humane employee experience because that’s what triggers commitment at work. I’ll give the leaders in your company a clear vocabulary and framework to turn your organization into a destination workplace.
Joe (Clip from Live Keynote):
What you see in front of you is the employee scorecard. Every single person in every single job, in every single company on Earth is walking around with a kind of internal psychological scorecard. And if you can engineer these experiences for the people in your organization and they can check most, if not all of the boxes on this scorecard, you create an extraordinary competitive advantage for your organization and team. And we’re definitely gonna talk about why so many people are changing jobs. Okay, I’m gonna run over to this side of the room now. This is almost as long as a walk from the hotel.
Joe (Clip from Live Keynote):
Why are people switching? What is something we haven’t heard yet? Organization. Don’t say someone’s name. That’s not nice. <laugh>, I heard organization. What else? Feeling valued, feeling valued. Management that we had dozens of answers for. Why are people switching? But I would argue there’s only one. I would argue that every answer you just gave rolls up to a bigger idea. And that bigger idea is this. People are switching to improve their quality of life. When we create a workplace that stops treating people like a commodity and starts treating them as a fully formed human being, you don’t just crack the code of commitment, you make a massive difference across society.
Joe (Keynote Ad):
When I arrive on site as your speaker, I have two jobs. Help the people in the audience with the real-world challenges they face every day and do it in a way that is utterly captivating. If you’d like more information, a quote, or to check date availability, just email email@example.com. That’s firstname.lastname@example.org.