Three understandable mistakes that leaders make in the first month

Loretta Brown

Taking on a leadership role in a new organisation is a huge transition and leaders often place unrealistic expectations on themselves.

Make a good impression!
Understand everything!
Make decisions fast!

Take care with these expectations - they can trip you up;.

Mistake number one: Get some quick wins

In a bid to prove value, leaders aim for fast runs on the board. They want to be perceived as willing to make tough decisions and take prompt action to solve problems. It is typical for new leaders to make big changes in the first month.

Mistake number two:  Roll your sleeves up 

Newly appointed leaders are keen to demonstrate their commitment and show that they are prepared to work hard. Getting stuck into detailed tasks and diving into facts and numbers is a natural tendency. Working long hours is too!

Mistake number three: Stick with what you know well 

Previous behaviors and strategies are the obvious place to try to leverage success in a new role. It is easy to resort to the comfort of familiar tactics.

There are better approaches that can achieve longer term results:

Take your time

Wanting to quickly demonstrate expertise is seductive, but  first getting to know the territory is vital.  The pressure to perform immediately can be mostly self imposed.  Give enough time to really understand the challenges and try to resist making fast decisions.

Focus on everyone else

The spotlight is on a new leader and it is easy to become too focused on making a good impression and providing answers. Everyone else is interested in his or her own agenda.  By listening more, saying less and really exploring the needs and issues of others, a new leader will establish trust.

Stay above the detail

At the early stages of a new appointment all the details are not so important. An overview can be maintained by scanning, looking for patterns, making links between functions and identifying gaps.  Diving into detail and tactical action will look busy and productive but is less effective.

Become the learner

A new context will require new approaches. Rather than being the expert, the leader who is confident is always willing to be a learner.  Being the naive questioner can yield important information. Adopting a learning attitude will encourage good connections with people and create new ideas.

Loretta Brown

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