First 100 days: Overcoming New Leader Challenges

First 100 days: Overcoming New Leader Challenges

Filter tag: Change Management and Executive Outplacement, Leadership Capability, Strategies for Growth

No matter how ready you think you are for a leadership role, reality does not always match expectations. This is true across the senior level, including for the role of CEO and the rest of the C-suite. Nearly every new Executive who participated in McKinsey’s latest Rising CEO Forum reported feeling well-equipped for the job at first given their experience, but later realised that the job required skills and expertise they had never developed or their existing skills and expertise were not as strong as they initially thought. This may naturally lead to feelings of imposter syndrome, which is not uncommon at the senior level but can also hinder your new leader assimilation efforts. Nothing stalls progress, good leadership, strong decision making, and business growth like fear and doubt. No leader is immune to these emotions, but what you choose to do when these feelings arise is what separates strong leaders from the rest of the pack.

Read on for our experts’ advice on overcoming the challenges you will inevitably face when assimilating to a new senior-level position.

  • Build Trust and Resilience: There can be no trust without honesty, and new leaders need to be upfront and forthcoming from the start. In an era where trust is paramount, leaders must be authentic and transparent in a constructive manner. They should communicate openly, even when sharing difficult messages or requiring support. It is important to remember that you are just one person, you do not have all the answers, and you won’t always know exactly what to do in every situation.  By involving employees in problem-solving and providing clear information about required skills and changes, leaders can inspire trust and create a culture of shared accountability. Effective communication at every level and juncture helps to co-create expectations, celebrate successes, and learn from failures, fostering a forward-facing and positive environment.
  • Delegate Authority: New leaders may feel pressure to be seen to be making decision or taking actions immediately to prove themselves in their new role. Spreading yourself thin or taking everything on yourself benefits no one, least of all you. Referring to the McKinsey statistic mentioned earlier, nearly half of the executives who fail within 18 months of taking on a role “quietly struggle” in those positions. Suffering in silence is not the way forward. If you do not know something, do not claim to. Ask questions, learn all you can, and do not be afraid to lean on others. Assign clear priorities and responsibilities and empower your team early on to ensure goals are met and promises are kept. Instead of attempting to take on everything yourself to prove your capabilities, understand that the most effective leaders are those who delegate. That said, there is a difference between simply delegating tasks and delegating authority. Delegating tasks to team members will get you by in the short term, but it is much better to delegate the authority, building capability, autonomy and empowering greater team collaboration. Prioritise the activities that are going to drive the most impact for the business, whether that requires earning some quick wins or taking major strides along a long-term growth path and focus your attention on those, trusting team members to handle the rest. Focus on fostering a culture of accountability, autonomy, and ownership. Recognise the potential in others and nurture it.
  • Strengthen Your Personal Effectiveness: At the same time, ensure you are nurturing and strengthening your own personal effectiveness to navigate the challenges of a new role successfully. Building an effective influence base helps leaders get their voices heard and establish trust with stakeholders. Defining personal success and priorities through clear goal setting aligns personal contributions with business objectives. Additionally, managing personal effectiveness involves developing greater soft skills like emotional intelligence, agility, empathy and adaptability. Leaders should also be aware of imposter syndrome, seeking support and cultivating resilience in the face of self-doubt.

Every leader will have a different approach and style, with success in a new role looking different for everyone. But at the end of the day, people are more likely to follow leaders who feel human, recognise their strengths and limits, empower others to be their best, and truly walk the talk. Beyond delivering on the business objectives you set, who you are as a leader and as a person can be more important for impacting your success in the role and your perceived assimilation as a valued member of the leadership team.

If you would value new key insights into developing your capabilities as a leader and maximising your effectiveness in a new senior-level role, get in touch with our team to discuss our Leadership Development services.

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