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Impressing The New Boss

Leadership in your organization will change. You may get a new boss yourself or you may find yourself in the middle of a large scale corporate reorganization.

In any circumstance, you must be intentional about using this opportunity to accelerate your career.

It is critical you know how to remain focused on your personal outcomes, give the new leadership confidence to let you do your job, enable them to help you when you need senior level support, and ensure they do not feel the need to micromanage.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you navigate leadership changes.

Focus on Goals

As we shared in our Accelerating Career Basics: Mastering the Interview you should already know the company’s goals, challenges, and opportunities for improvement.

Regardless of the level of leadership change there will be new goals.

One very easy way to show your competence is to ask a) what the new leaders see as changes to existing goals and b) how you can help support those new goals on a day to day basis.

💡 Pro Tip: If a new boss comes in and says they know exactly what needs to change after two weeks on the job be very careful around this new leader. Seasoned leaders know it takes time to see the root cause of problems and a good leader will have a well thought-out perspective before sharing it with their subordinates.

One other consideration to remember while we are discussing goals is to make sure the organization’s new goals align with your goals. See item three in 7 Pillars for Accelerating Your Career.

If your new leadership fails to ask you about your goals, then feel free to share your goals in one-on-one interactions, but you should also look for plan B.

Be Humble

Humility is a dying skill in the era of influencers. Many times humble people will get stepped on by others seeking to accelerate their career. We are not saying to be sheepish or cowardly, but this is not the time to be self-praising or grandiose.

Focus on showing proof of your value based on facts, outcomes, and deliverables.

💡 Pro Tip: If you see people who do a lot of talking and hand waving, but they don’t actually produce anything, even senior leaders, be wary of them.

If you have an opportunity, also take a genuine interest in your new leaders. They are people and want to be loved too. Ask them about their interests and background. Simple acts of kindness go a long way and you might be able to find something you share in common.

Also please don’t talk shit about other people unless you are asked your opinion. It sounds simple, but there is an art form to sharing that someone else is bad at their job. Taking cheap shots without facts is dangerous business.

Establish Your Value

When new leaders arrive they are looking for inefficiencies, opportunities for improvements, throats to choke, ways to make a splash, or call it what you want.

The point here is that you must establish your value early and often. Hopefully you are already one of the team’s top performers and you have been recognized for your contribution.

However, it is important to always remember that the company is not loyal to you. See item two in 7 Pillars for Accelerating Your Career.

Here are a few ways to make sure your contribution is visible:

· Always show up early to meetings with your leaders

· Summarize your work product in a dashboard on a weekly basis

· Your summaries should be succinct and to the point; preferably one pagers

· A simple summary can contain priorities, accomplishments, risks and issues with action plans, and status for upcoming deliverables

· If you have a 12 month roadmap that is an extra bonus

· Ask questions that demonstrate you are aware of the team’s goals

· Do not ask nonsense questions that waste time

· Ask how you can contribute to the team’s goals in group settings to set a good example

· Ask what else you can do beyond your current work load to help the team

The basic takeaway here is that if you act like a leader yourself, then you can establish your value; which will pay dividends as you seek to accelerate your career. You want you leaders to see how your work integrates into their objectives so as they set their priorities you are at the top of their list.

💡 Pro Tip: If you are seen as someone who is present to solve problems and drive good outcomes for the company your perceived value will increase.

Set Limits

If you are successful in establishing your value, then paradoxically you can also set limits without hurting your reputation. We all need to understand the priorities and vacation time to recharge the batteries doesn’t hurt.

If a poor performer comes to a manager and says I can’t take on a new task or this existing task is too hard for me, but please also give me a raise, then that poor performer will be on the chopping block.

However, if a solid performer comes to a manager and says look I am underwater and I am having a hard time with this situation, then the manager is more likely to have sympathy and help look for solutions without seeing the solid performer as a problem.

If you are good at getting things done, then leaders will keep coming back to you to get more stuff done. It is hard to be successful at 100 things. You must help them understand the priorities. If they want to change the priorities then something has to be deprioritized.

💡 Pro Tip: Your job is to also help leaders learn and understand. The rising tide lifts all ships.

Bad Leaders

What if your new leader is just bad?

It happens. The new leaders may be a friend of a friend. The new leader may have been good at one point and is riding their reputation. The new leader may have simply aged out of the current knowledge set.

Whatever the cause, remember you are not stuck. See our articles on Finding Good Managers and Continuous Interviewing. We do not believe bad leaders become good leaders overnight and so it is best to find your next opportunity and preserve your sanity; all things being equal.

Final Thoughts

Regardless of whether you get a new leader who is bad or good the first few months will be bumpy. Please feel free to review out thoughts on Being Resilient in Your Career.

If you focus on your goals, remain humble, show value, and set limits with your new leadership you will be well on your way to using a precarious situation to your advantage.

It will never be as good as you hope or as bad as you fear, but always have an exit strategy and focus on your goals.

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