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Have You Seen This Bull?

By Glenn Kaufman on Jan. 3, 2012 in Leadership Bites


Over the years, I’ve witnessed many senior leaders come into organizations like bulls in china shops, only to be booted out- some within their first 90 days.  It’s like an immune reaction where the body spits out the offending bug, only with all the organizational collateral damage as a side effect.

No matter how smart or senior you are, you simply don’t have credibility in a new organization until you earn it.  One way to do so is by demonstrating a voracious thirst for understanding products, markets, operations, etc. before you make your mark.  It helps to frame your initial observations as hypotheses and hunches that you want to test out with various stakeholders.  This has the added advantage of helping you learn how different people see the issues and how various perspectives frame them in this company.  By opening your comments with phrases like, “Here is what I am seeing/hearing/finding about xyz…” you will create dialog and get valuable feedback that can serve as pieces of the organizational puzzle.  Further, you will build credibility by demonstrating that you are wiling to learn and not someone who already knows it all.

Sure, you may have positional power to call the shots, but in the beginning, your followers (and the grapevine) will be watching and grading you by how you engage them by balancing telling, selling, and compelling. Give yourself a fighting chance by gracefully transitioning from new hire to leader, and earn your stripes one line at a time.


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