3 Vital Tasks for Welcoming a New Leader

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

The start of a new year may find you welcoming a new leader to your team. Key to your onboarding effort is emphasizing the need to build relationships that are essential for the leader’s success. 

Guiding your new leader to accomplish these 3 tasks will support that objective, and help establish the leader’s effectiveness and credibility: 

1. Align current circumstances with expectations. New leaders must quickly gain clarity about the path ahead and your expectations for them. As a first priority, ask your new leader to review the company’s vision, purpose/mission, value proposition, goals and strategies prior to your initial meeting. Then, align your expectations for the leader with the current circumstances, status of plan execution and other key issues, particularly those portions for which the leader is responsible, emphasizing what’s working and what obstacles are inhibiting progress. 

When your new leader seeks to exchange expectations with their new team, suggest that this be accomplished with the entire team, and then with each team member to accelerate trustdevelopment. This will be the new leader’s first chance to assess the competency of the team as well as its level of collaboration and shared accountability. An open, transparent expression of the leader’s expectations, aligned with plan and team performance, followed by actively listening as the team shares what they need and expect, will establish a productive precedent for future team meetings. When meeting with individual team members, encourage your new leader to learn each person’s responsibilities, goals, motivations and aspirations, as well as expectations. 

2. Meet with key stakeholders. New leaders also need to gain the support of peers, colleagues and other key stakeholders. Introduce your new leader to other appropriate internal leaders, and encourage your leader to schedule meetings with each one, signaling that these relationships are valuable. Gaining an understanding about the goals and expectations of peers and other stakeholders should be the primary objective for these early discussions, enabling each leader to realize how best to support one another. Such conversations will reveal how decisions are made in the organization, who has influence over them, and where the centers of power reside. When appropriate, this process should be replicated with key customers and other external stakeholders. 

3. Familiarize with company culture. Finally, if the new leader is from outside the organization, it’s critical to learn about the company’s core values, cultural norms, and guiding assumptions that define acceptable behavior within your organization. Even if the new leader is from within the business, it’s important to identify how some expected behaviors may differ between operating departments. If expected behaviors have never been discussed with the leader’s team, then this becomes an opportunity for the new leader and team to collaborate on developing these together so everyone appreciates what is expected regarding the demonstration of core values. 

Together, these three tasks help new leaders better understand, early in their new roles, where to prioritize their valuable time so that progress may be accelerated. 

How are you welcoming and guiding your new leaders?

Leave a Comment