Thank you for listening to The Champion Forum Podcast with Jeff Hancher! Taking over a new team is a delicate situation, especially when the last leader was ineffective or toxic. Too many leaders start by talking about their past success or the previous leader’s failure. Today, we’ll talk about the mistakes leaders make when taking over a new team and what you can do to honor the past while giving a positive vision for the future.
Mistakes Leaders Make When Taking Over an Underperforming Team
Mistake #1 Talking about how good your last team was
Leaders think that by talking about their past success, they will create trust and confidence. Instead, this makes people feel like you are bragging. They start to wonder, If your old organization or team was so good, why did you leave? If your old organization is so good, why don't you go back? Your message must be that the past was good, but the future will be great. This perspective honors the work the team is doing now and shows that you appreciate them.
Mistake #2 Talking about the failure of the team
Telling people that they have been doing everything wrong and that you are here to save the day might make sense to you, but it erodes any chance the team will want to follow. Reminding the team that they have underperformed is a great way to create resistance. No one wants to think that their past efforts mean nothing. By honoring the past, new leaders begin rebuilding from a foundation of respect. The best way to establish credibility with the new team is to recognize and appreciate the previous results and those who helped to create them, no matter how dismal they might be.
Mistake #3 - Talking badly about the last leader
Don’t try to prop yourself up by making someone else look bad. You will make yourself look insecure. Even when they disapprove of past decisions and strategies, effective leaders avoid badmouthing previous choices when providing a vision for a new path forward. The best leaders honor the last leader and the work the team performed under them. Remember, It is not the past that honors leaders, but leadership that honors the past.
Q: Have you ever worked for a leader who made one of these mistakes? How did they make you feel? How did it affect morale? Did the leader ever recover? Why or why not?
If you are taking on a new leadership position, consider where you want your team to go. What would success look like for you over the first 90 days? Narrow down your goals to three main areas. Practice communicating those goals clearly. How will you communicate those goals to each member of your team? How do their job responsibilities tie into those goals?
How can you honor the past in your current leadership position? Consider the past success of your team, from results to the way you work together. What can you celebrate? How can you show honor to the roots of the company?