Trevor E. S. Smith | How can I figure out my new boss?
“A new leader has taken over. How do I get on their right side?”
“Getting off on the wrong footing can be hard to correct. How do I avoid that?”
“Leaders like to identify their go-to people early. How can I avoid being left out of the loop?”
KNOW YOUR BOSS
Read on if you want to get an edge in connecting with a new leader.
- Scenario 1: Getting an insight into your leader’s approach to setting, establishing and managing the agenda is a useful starting point.
You get a meeting invitation by email on day one. Leader moves quickly through introductions. She outlines a three-point strategy, including what appears to be clearly defined stretch targets.
Your takeaway is never to lose sight of who is in charge. Also delivering results is your ticket to the inner circle.
- Scenario 2: Your new leader pops by your desk and introduces herself. She tells you enough about herself to make you feel comfortable. You actually end up exchanging notes as to which schools you are rooting for in the competition. There is no real talk about work.
Your takeaway is that you will have the opportunity to connect with your new leader. You might even risk sharing those ideas that you have locked away. The atmosphere will be warm and conducive to teamwork.
- Scenario 3: You receive notice of a meeting to take place later in the week. It includes an agenda, with a note that it would be nice if you could come prepared to share briefly on your contribution to the team. The note indicates that the change in leadership is not intended to effect wholesale changes. The intention is to review together what works and what needs fixing.
Take the opportunity to do some introspection. The focus will be on consensus building around tweaking what exists.
- Scenario 4: Mail comes into your inbox incorporating formal acknowledgment that this individual is your new team leader. It informs you of a meeting on Thursday at 3:15 p.m.
Appended is a 15-point questionnaire that seeks to capture the essence of what you do.
Shocked into a fit of head-scratching, you get the message. This ride is going to be data-driven and structured, plus accountability will be high on the agenda.
If this were an ideal world, you could ask HR to share her Extended DISC behavioural profile, including a cross section of competences from the FinxS library. That would give you information on a platter covering her leadership style, how she communicates, how she works in projects, and her approach to working in teams.
But we do not live in an ideal world so we have to look to elsewhere.
This can be tricky, so you have to use this with common sense and social intelligence.
Repeated use of ‘I’ could indicate an ‘I lead/You follow’ relationship.
Emphasis on ‘you’ could signal the intention to delegate and to hold you responsible for delivering the results. However, it could also suggest that your importance is recognised. Use context and actions to find out which.
‘We’ is the magic pronoun. If ‘we’ flows easily and credibly, then you can breathe more comfortably.
Would you like to be led by someone who is not sure where they are going?
What if your leader second-guesses herself consistently?
What if she bails out in the face of challenges?
It is only reasonable for you to know this up front. So, how can you get a sneak insight into the resolve and self-confidence of your new leader?
The key is to watch body language and to listen for keywords.
“We will ...” delivered with a clenched fist signals determination and commitment.
“I am thinking that we could ... .” REALLY!!!
But what if that sentence is followed by “What are your thoughts?”
This is difficult. Consulting is good, but do you have a plan, know where you are taking us, and how to get there?
‘Ought’ is a values-driven word suggesting that ethics and transparency will come to the fore.
All this might come to nought if you come up against a leader with a preference for C-style behaviour who would prefer to know more about you than you about them.
Request a copy of our publication DISCerning Communication: Ready Guide To Interpersonal Relations, Leadership and Coaching here. Email: email@example.com.
Trevor E. S. Smith/Success with People Academy solutions align, drive and track performance. Our SPIKE performance management, governance and compliance e-platform supports Compliance, tracks performance and guides learning & development. We certify leadership professionals and coach/mentors and develop engaged, high-performing teams. Avoid bad hires with FinxS solutions from Extended DISC. Ask about how to create your own turnkey coaching business. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.