Have you ever taken over for a leader who was fired or asked to step down? How do you handle a team that has been negatively affected by its leader's poor decision-making? On today's po
dcast, I'm sharing exactly what I would do if I had to take over for an ineffective leader today and how you can rebuild trust and a positive culture on a damaged team.
What to do when taking over for a bad leader:
1. Don't join in throwing the previous leader under the bus.
Taking the bait and throwing the leader under the bus is easy. It seems like an easy way to find common ground, especially as you uncover the mistakes and bad habits they had that are making your transition difficult. Although most people don't like them, some may be fond of them. Use this as an opportunity to show your professional maturity and win the hearts of the whole team, not just the majority.
2. Give credit where credit is due.
Look for the good things they did and celebrate that while being transparent about the reality of the damage done. Assume that the other leader did their best and just came up short. If you slam them for their faults, you will lose credibility. If you pretend like everything was fine, you will come off as naive.
3. Acknowledge the reality.
The people on your team are likely bruised from the last leader. Many of them may be on their way out the door. With any team that was hurt by a bad leader, they may have bruised confidence or feel like they can't grow. Acknowledge that the previous leader was trying to help them grow and support them but failed. They couldn't take this team where they needed to go. Helping your team realize that the past leader was human will allow your team to heal. You need to enable your team to bridge the gap between how it was and how it will be so they can move on and find healing.
Focus on your leadership brand
Build trust by asking great open-ended questions.
How can I help you right now?
What do you need moving forward?
What do you hope I will do as a leader?
What do you hope I won't do?
What are your expectations for me?
What is your hope for a leader coming in?
Find ways to engage the team
Motive your team
Create systems and processes from their feedback
Avoid making these three critical errors:
Slamming the old leader
Not asking questions
Making promises you can't keep
Collecting honest feedback is always a good idea whether you are a new leader or have been with your team for some time. I recommend asking your team these three questions: 1) What should we stop doing? 2) What should we start doing? 3) What should we keep doing? Take the most common suggestions to your team and discuss them further while brainstorming how you can improve. When you do, you will enhance their trust in you and their dedication to the team.
Consider what would happen if you left your current role. Would your team be relieved? Would your replacement be able to step into the role and be effective quickly? If you feel like your relationships or organization are lacking, consider how you can improve. Decide on an action step like collecting anonymous feedback or cleaning up your team's organizational processes, and commit to doing it by the end of next week.