A new CEO needs to hit the ground running. Use these six tips to score quick points with your employees:
1. Think, then talk. As much as you want to curry favor with everyone, wait to speak. Impulsive comments, from off-color jokes to cynical asides, can sting.
2. Withhold your brilliance. As the newcomer, you’ll hear questions such as, “What’s your plan?” and “Do you have a transformative vision?”
Don’t rush to respond. Instead, probe to determine what others think—and what issues or ideas matter most to them.
3. Spread yourself thin. Attend as many employee gatherings as possible, even if you say very little while you’re there. Sending a surrogate won’t suffice.
4. Reply to nearly every message. When a customer, vendor or other stakeholder writes you, write back. Perhaps they’re questioning your organization’s actions or they heard a rumor. A clear response can tamp down brewing discontent.
5. Seek out wise owls. Launching a charm offensive with longtime employees can strengthen your. They’ll share stories about the organization and give you a better sense of institutional history. Invite them to lunch, show interest in them and draw from their experiences.
6. Develop a thick skin. Leaders face constant insults and take heaps of blame for things they cannot control. That’s part of the job. The worst attacks reveal more about the attacker than you. Don’t get caught up in defending yourself and never take it personally.
— Adapted from “Leadership Tips for College Presidents and CEOs,” Barry Glassner and Morton Schapiro, www.wsj.com.