If you are a New Leader, it is important to take a step back and study the organization you are entering (and the people in it). Unfortunately – for a variety of reasons – some New Leaders dive headlong into a role without thinking about the impact their actions may have on others. Oblivious New Leaders do so at their own peril, and they fail to meet the needs and expectations of key individuals around them.
The results: angry and resentful colleagues, neglected Direct Reports, and a Hiring Manager who wonders if the right decision was made. Not a great way to start. Damaged relationships can ultimately lead to your undoing, and it will reinforce the idea that somehow you weren't the right “fit” for the organization.
From Self-Awareness to Success
There is a better way to navigate the onboarding process than the white-knuckle approach. New Leaders must develop self-awareness about their own leadership style and address the needs of others in the organization. There are a variety of tools designed to foster self understanding. Our favorite is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). The MBTI is an established self assessment that is widely used, non-clinical, straightforward and the results are easy to interpret. It provides a quick view into how people perceive the world and make decisions (which ultimately directs one’s behavior).
New Leaders who use the MBTI assessment tool should keep in mind that the results are indeed your own preferences, and not necessarily the “right” way of seeing and doing things.
There are 4 areas that the MBTI utilizes to find your preferences:
- Source of Energy – are you motivated more through interactions with others, or recharged by solitude?
- Data Processing – are you more interested in numbers and sequential processing, or are you likely to cast a broader net, seeking variety of information (external inputs, qualitative information, etc.)?
- Decision Making – do you have steadfast rules of thumb to maintain consistency, or are you more concerned about the impact your decisions may have on others?
- Planning and Implementation – are you structured and time-bound in planning, or do you embrace a more spontaneous and flexible approach?
MBTI and Your Role
At this point, you may be asking, “What does any of this have to do with my transition as a New Leader?” The answer is simple. By applying what you discover about your preferences (and behavior) you can increase your chance of onboarding success. Take into account how each of the 4 dimensions play out in the actions and expectations of your new colleagues (and the broader organizational culture). And, most importantly, be sure to recognize the risks of rigidly holding to your own preferences. Pick your “battles” wisely, as often you will do better to adapt instead of asserting what you think is best. We often tell our clients that as a New Leader you don’t have be a perfect stylistic match – the key to success is knowing where to adjust your behavior and learning to relate to others in a positive, productive way.
In our next 4 blog posts, we will explore how personality styles impact Leader transitions by identifying the risk factors inherent for each of the 4 MBTI dimensions. Check back next month for winning strategies that will help you balance your leadership style with the needs and expectations of others.