New leaders: Watch hidden traps

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in Centerpiece,Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills

leadership developmentNew leaders often assume they must make a big splash from the outset. So on their first day, they enact dramatic changes or issue bold announcements.

Levelheaded leaders, by contrast, resist the urge to rush. They set up their own time frame, promising incremental gains over time.

Avoid these traps during your first few months in a leadership role:

  • Making snap decisions. In weighing what to keep and what to abandon from the prior regime, a new CEO might announce personnel changes or system overhauls right away. But it’s smarter to mull over big moves and solicit input from key players before finalizing a decision. Proceed in stages so that you don’t enact sweeping reforms prematurely.
  • Assembling a team of stars to problem-solve. Choosing winners and losers too soon can backfire on all counts. Team members will bask in the glow of their vaunted status, and their egos might stymie their effectiveness. Other employees, resentful that they were left off the “superteam,” can turn into saboteurs.
  • Announcing tougher standards. Raising the bar on performance may make sense in theory. But in practice, establishing new metrics can strike employees as unrealistic. If they don’t buy into your approach, you risk undermining their collective effort and stoking their cynicism about your leadership. Discuss your expectations with trusted lieutenants and get their feedback before you commit to new, higher standards.
  • Pretending to know it all. The best leaders admit what they don’t know. Rather than dish out answers to every inquiry, respond with questions that trigger rich, revealing conversations. Ideally, you want employees to think for themselves and tap each other’s expertise—not look to you as the sole source of all knowledge.

— Adapted from “There are 5 huge myths about a CEO’s first 100 days,” Max Nisen.

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