Lessons Learned From a Year of Change

Building a "Team" as a new leader

Many of us have made successful job changes in the past year during a tough economy.  On May 15, I will reach that one year milestone of making a this kind of change. After working 19 years in a job in Tennessee, I make a career change and took a new job challenge in Texas.

It is important for any leader to reflect on the success or failures of the new job in the first year. Success can be defined differently by two different cultures so it is important to take time to ask the hard questions of what could you do better in the future? Here are some of the lessons of this transition that I have learned:

Success at the previous job only gets you hired – it is up to you to create a new reputation for success in the future. They don’t care how successful you were – they want to see if you can lead here!

  • There is no substitute for hard work and focus when you’re defining your new leadership reputation
  • Communicating is the key to building trust among your peers and followers
  • Challenging problems are golden opportunities for building early creditability
  • You may have to adjust your style for doing things to fit into the new culture. It is usually fails on the difference in how decisions are made.

Each work culture will have different ways of managing the budget. The ability to adjust will be a key to early success.

  • In every situation, there are key performers that you need to know to be successful. Building those relationships early will assist your leadership development.
  • Take time to get to know the people who you may see as difficult or different. Usually this step of seeking understanding will give you an advantage in building a better work environment. Many times it is the real difference in building a successful team.
  • Be careful when people become critical of others – Take time to judge the work of people for yourself.
  • A positive attitude and kind words of gratitude are a breath of fresh air in most situations. Use them often
  • Attack the process and not the individual.
  • Ask more questions than giving answers in the beginning – seek first to understand before being understood.
  • Clear vision or work direction can be a powerful leadership tool for building common ground. Pick a reasonable goal and celebrate it.
  • Early success is key to building community support
  • Developing standards of excellence or expectations are a key to getting better. Expect some resistance to change.
  • Listening is the key to showing respect. Failure to act on potential problems can be a set real back.

This week I plan to create a grade card for my leadership team to rate ourselves on how well we have developed in the past year. You see – it is not about me but it is about “us” – Building a team who accepts responsible for the future is the key to long term success. This grade card will measure important items such as vision, standards, communication, trust, training, and problem solving. If you would like a copy – just email me to request it.

What are the critical elements that should be measured in the first year?

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