How to On-Board Successfully as a Leader (Part Two)

How to On-Board Successfully as a Leader (Part Two)

In the previous blog, I talked about the importance of determining the culture of the organization into which you’re stepping as a leader. Strategies and tactics vary widely for those entering into Smooth Sailing, Unstable Calm, Ready to Accelerate, and Facing Disaster environments. Now let’s talk about the people you are likely to encounter on your journey.


Inevitably, you will have some people who will support you, some who will resist you, and others who will hang out in the middle of the road. It is important to know who’s who in your organization, with the goal of moving every team member one step in the right direction.


These are the people who share your vision. They are often new to the organization and have more to gain by going forward than by holding on to the past. Your strategy with Contributors should be to make them your champions. Give them leadership roles, committee assignments, projects to manage that allow them to sing your praises and those of your department. Contributors can also be beneficial in giving you honest feedback about what they are hearing and seeing in the weeds…not as tattletales, but as extensions of your eyes and ears.


These people are comfortable with the status quo, change resistant, and may see you as a threat to their value and power. They have often been in their position for a long time and see a greater threat in change than in the current state. Your strategy with Detractors is to silence their whining, complaints, arguments…not in a spirit of “my way or the highway,” but rather to become better team players. Detractors will probably never become Contributors, but if you can find a common middle ground with them, they may keep their mouths shut.


These people—often the silent majority—will sit on the fence and see which way the herd’s moving. Your strategy with Watchers is to move them towards your side of the continuum. They’ll probably never become Contributors, but at least they can feel positive about their work environment and you. I think of Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People…make small deposits in their emotional bank account, try not to make huge withdrawals, and eventually you’ll have a respectable balance in that account.


If the goal, as I stated earlier, is to move every person one step in the right direction, how do you do that? By changing the consequences, so that it is less risky and more rewarding to follow; more risky and less rewarding to resist. Simply put, increase the positive consequences of good behaviors and the negative consequences of bad behaviors; decrease the negative consequences of good behaviors and the positive consequences of bad behaviors.

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