Managing Change When Assuming A New Leadership Role

Change is almost inevitable for the team or organisation receiving a new leader. Every leader has his or her idiosyncrasy and that colours how they do what they do. Managing change when assuming a new leadership role is key for the successful transitions.

There will be necessary and forced adjustments as both teams and leaders establish working rapport. Then there are changes leaders will make. It is expected that new leaders make some changes.

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Be Led | When Assuming A New Leadership Role

I’ve started making notes to myself on things I should do, as assuming a new leadership role. (If you’ve been following my blog, thank you… Also, you will know how I’ve highlighted writing as one, if not the biggest way I reflect. My apologies for repeating this, again)

In an earlier post I wrote about how leaders need to avoid making suggestions too early in their tenure, but listen. In that post also did say, “As a new leader make sure you’re not a jerk”. Well, enough about that. You can see that post here.

be led

Moving on…

When assuming a new leadership role in a place where you, as the leader are the new one, don’t be so quick to start leading. I know you’re there to lead but leading doesn’t necessarily mean start calling all the shots as you walk in the doors.

When you’re a new leader in a team and or organization that is somewhat established, instead of leading, be led. Be a part of the established practices and processes.

Let people responsible for the different functions affecting your role and where possible, the enterprise at large, to lead you.

Failure to let your team lead you is a failure in your leadership [Click to Tweet]

Allow people involved in the processes to show you and explain how and why things are done the way they are. Follow through with how each processes or department feeds off another while enabling another. Where possible get into the trenches with those you (will) lead.

Being a player on the teams of those you (will) lead will give you more insight not only about how systems work, but also how they lead or contribute as individuals. Relationships are key for achieving. Thus the interactions at the ‘being led level’ facilitate critical relationship building.

One of the reasons competent leaders fail is leading from rank, with no relational foundation [Click to Tweet]

Without the experience and knowledge of how people and systems work, you could destroy fences that will leave your enterprise exposed.

There is history embedded in an intuitive way in those who serve that they would never think about sharing if you asked them to put them in a manual. Being in their space makes you aware of those not so obvious things.

Rule #02 to assuming a new leadership role: Be led. [Click to Tweet] 

Rule #01 | When Assuming A New Leadership Role

Sometimes I think a lot. At other times too much (and sometimes it hurts). Writing is one of the tools that help me clarify a lot in terms of my thinking or reflecting. I’ve written about this before, here.

I haven’t made a journal entry this year and I probably should be doing that. Having taken on a new leadership role in a different city and context.

I’m loving it. A new challenge in a different environment and context. I still have a great sense of adventure and loving it.

In some ways there are leadership dynamics unique to contexts. Then again, not much difference in the function(s) of leadership. The effectiveness of every and or any leader does depend on how well they understand their context.

When leaders have no understanding of what their context is and the demands of that context they failure is almost guaranteed. This can be a spoiler for the new adventure…

Thus, as I lead in my new role I must be careful to reflect on my context and it’s demands. There is no way I can be effective without doing so.

Looking ahead…

rule 1 new leadership role

When assuming a new leadership role leaders must be employ the tool of listening. Temptation exists to step in and start making changes because of either a communicated or uncommunicated expectations.

Before doing much new leaders must listen much. Things to note:


Listening means not flippantly spewing suggestions or critique. It means asking questions, a lot. It means asking why things worked the way they have or being done in a particular way.

Don’t let your experience trip you up… Don’t be so smug you think those you meet in your new roles never considered some things you’re might suggest. They might have not and this doesn’t mean you could’ve if you were there when decision where taken before your era.

There can easily be innumerable instances where they have more than one up on you… No one wants to serve with a jerk of a leader. Don’t be a jerk.

There will be plenty of time for suggestions and changes. When you’re starting out, chill and do nothing but listen.


Listening is really about fact finding. The silence needed here is not the kind that could destroy your enterprise but it is necessary for the good of it. Listening, in this instance, is about gathering information about systems. It is listening out for hostility and tensions of systems, dominating thoughts and sentiments.

It means paying attention to see the great things going on. It is allowing your fresh eyes to appreciate the resources you have at your disposal for your assignment.

Willingness to listen as you assume your new role is a product of humility and servanthood. No one likes people who only have a room for themselves and their ego. Stay humble and listen.

Humility is necessary for great listening and learning. Your priority as a new leader is to listen. Learn before attempting any change. Listening communicates that you care about the people who serve in the enterprise or team and the enterprise itself.

If you have access to your predecessor, listening to them is one of your greatest resources. It is possible they could be battered by their role… On the other hand they may have been flourishing by the time they handover to you. It would be folly to completely ignore them and the wisdom they accumulated…

Listening is at the heart of identifying challenges and opportunities for growth.

This is a ‘note to self’ and hope it is useful for you too either now or later ;-)