Now that I'm the Leader, How Will My Team Change?

I'm the new leader; how will my team change?All people fear change, whether they admit it or not.

Your people (please don’t say “subordinates” – that language is SO outdated) don’t know what to expect of you as a leader, and you don’t know what it’s going to be like to lead them.

Many new leaders think they should walk in with all the answers; great leaders walk in with the right questions. Then, they lead their teams to a co-crafted solution.

Not only does this get buy-in from your team, it gives you a pulse on what every team member is thinking, and what they’re willing to contribute. And please write (or have someone) write down the responses to these questions. And post the questions and answers in a place where everyone is reminded of them.

Do the following three things, in some way, every single day:

1. Ask them what is going well currently, and what isn’t. If you want honest and candid responses, be honest and candid. And be respectful of everyone.

2. Ask them where they see the team in one year. Ask them to describe, in rich detail, what the team will be doing, how it will be working together, and how what/how each member will have contributed to create a better, more fulfilling, more productive future.

3. Ask them what and how the team is going to get there. Ask what support they need from you as the supervisor. Ask what they need from each other. And ask what they need from other stakeholders.

Your team will change and adapt, because of you, based on how you ask these questions.

But, aside from asking great questions…how is the team going to work together now that you’re the boss?

Your team wants you to be successful.

After possible feelings of resentment, defensiveness, or competitiveness subside, your team members realize that you are responsible for making a large portion of their lives (40 hours/week in most cases) either an enjoyable, fulfilling experience, or not.

Don’t be afraid to lean on your team, just as they will lean on you.

Try these things:

1. Check in with your whole team regularly in staff meetings. You’ll never know what’s going on with the whole team unless you hear from them. And if they work remotely, they may not have any idea what the other members of the team are doing. Ask for status reports, and actually read them. Acknowledge the information you receive in staff meetings.

Especially with remote employees, your job is to be a connector. You’ve got to connect them with their work, with the workplace, with their teammates, and with you. Even the most senior employees have to learn different habits if they begin working remotely. And this presents an opportunity for you, as leader, to serve your team in a different capacity.

2. Meet individually with your team members at least once every two weeks to go over the work, but more importantly, to deepen the personal connections that build trust. That’s the best way to get work done. If the trust is broken, try everything you can to rebuild it.

3. Ask for feedback from your team. That sounds like, “How am I doing?” Initially, you might get a response like, “Fine,” especially if they don’t know if they can trust you. So, ask the question like this: “If there’s one thing you’d like to see me do differently that would help the team be better, what would that be?”

Oh. And listen. Listen to all the feedback (yes, there will be plenty of feedback, whether you choose to hear it or not). And act on it.

We’re all human. Feedback may sting a little, but you may be surprised at what you hear. And the more you hear, the more you improve.

And the more you improve, the more confidence you get. And the more confidence you exude, the more people innately trust you.

And trust me, you’re going to be fine.

Over time, being an effective leader and manager means being adaptable and resilient; being able to deal with change and think strategicallycritically, and creatively; and being able to deal with complex people and situations requires you to draw from a broad and deep set of skills.

The right training courses in leadership and management can help you grow the skills you need most to get to the next level—and they can give you the perspective, practice, and presence of mind to blend the experiences and skills you have with the situations and challenges to come.

Scott Boozer, of Boozer Leadership & Learning, contributed to this blog post.

Leadership & Management
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