Get your eyeballs in your palms and let them see ahead of you!
I’ve been asked many times during seminars and workshops on leader onboarding process. In most cases my answers were firmly rooted in the shape and form of the situation. When it’s stormy, the leader wears a cool-head. He listens more and talks less. If the team is coasting the leader should see ahead and be calm to detect possible future bumps on the ride. Leader onboarding process should be treated as a serious journey.
Obviously, it’s not the journey of no return. There’s always room for a U-Turn. Leaders shouldn’t be too excited on the onboarding journey. Get your eyeballs in your palms and let them see ahead of you. Your first test as a new Leader is to see through the minds and hearts of your followers. Ask good questions and learn to engage in difficult situations. Don’t be too acquiescent.
Every Leader within the L-F-S interactional framework goes through the New Leader onboarding roadmap. Hughes et al (2015) call it the 90- day rule. To succeed or to fail can be determined by your actions within the first 90 days as a leader. In the corporate settings, for example, new leaders are prepared and prompted ahead of time before they take up new roles. In most situations, 30 days is given.
Also, because 30 days are not really active working days, technically, but a pre-hiring period, it is referred to as the first -30 (negative thirty) days in leadership. During this period new leaders may not have started work in their roles.
This is the time a good leader who intends to onboard well, starts gathering information on the institution, workflow patterns, organogram, departmental authorities, organizational shells and team boundaries. When you exhaust the -30 days, actual work starts since the contract would have kicked in. Your first day at work, meet your immediate Boss! Give him the opportunity to give you his first instruction. If your Line Manager is not at work, text him, email him, call him. Just make contact.
If you are the CEO, make contact with the Chairman on your first day at work. Don’t give yourself away so easily. It’s not a good start if your Line Manger comes to find you and asks whether you are a part of his team or not? After meeting your Boss, you can then meet your team and introduce yourself to them even if the Line Manager introduces you to the team.
In the first 2 weeks, meet other team members, meet direct and indirect peers and don’t forget to engage the stars. In 60 days towards the 90 days of the leader on-boarding process, good leaders would start causing changes to strategy, staffing decisions, efficiency, cost, succession planning and other critical institutional matters.
In 90 days, a new leader should be confident to confront issues on corporate values, systems and process improvement. New Leaders struggle to settle in if they ignore these simple tips. Leader onboarding process is a simple tool and a critical corporate vitamin. Every leader must have this skill.
This is Leadership!