Practical guidelines for a leader to tackle the challenge of his or her new status

23 August 2018
SERIES Transitioning into a leadership position: notes from the OTT Fellows 8 items

How can a new leader tackle the challenge of addressing a new status for him or herself in the organisation? Lessons from the 2017 OTT Fellowship suggest the following:

1. Identify people’s needs: personal development and professional contribution

In theory, these are the highest needs or values which motivate people to perform at their best. The questions are: which one is prevailing and which specific directions of personal growth and a wider contribution to society are most meaningful for a particular individual.

Holding a series of informal meetings with everyone and being genuinely interested and attentive to each colleague should help establish trust and identify how a leader can support each employee and use his or her abilities for the greater good.

2. Hold a meeting and announce, let them think one day

A formal meeting with the team should make the new position official. A day off is needed to let people think through how to interact with the leader in a new role. Psychologically, our brain finds subconscious solutions during rest, ideally sleep. And socially, spontaneous chatting will self-organize the new informal relationship structure.

3. Then hold a one-in-one coaching session with everybody, asking questions

After this, individual one-to-one meetings in the new role will lay the grounds for future communication. The coaching approach implies that a leader, instead of imposing his or her agenda and ready-made answers, will ask guiding questions helping each employee to invent new better solutions for himself or herself. This is a very respectful way to assist colleagues.

4. Let them think one more day

Once again, the subconscious should do the job of getting accustomed to the news, integrating new pieces of information, and finding answers to potentially worrying questions.

5. Hold a conceptual strategic session for collecting ideas

As the organisational structure has changed, a strategic session should help elaborate a birds-eye view vision for the whole team. Facilitation would softly establish the leadership role while at the same time demonstrating openness to ideas for a common goal. Initially, staff could brainstorm ideas individually, then discuss them in pairs, voice the most important.

6. Cluster, synthesise and prioritise for a team mission

Then these ideas should be grouped in clusters. When ideas expressed reflect the same meaning, they can be merged. Finally, they should be prioritised according to the degree of contribution to the mission. Needless to say, it should be an agreed upon process, where everybody or at least the majority accept the final list of priorities.

7. Announce the action planning ahead and let this rest for a day

Similarly, a day off will boost creativity and help generate specific activities for the next session.

8. Hold a planning strategic session to elaborate clear steps for the next year

At the final session, each priority should be accompanied by a sequence of SMART goals.

9. Begin implementing with monitoring and support

After this, activities should be undertaken with full strength. What is most important, they should be accompanied by oversight, cross-checking, and support, if needed.