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Changing of The Guard: Supporting a New Leader

Updated: Jan 11, 2021

As a country we're currently undergoing a changing of the guard in our nations highest office. The eyes of the world are on the United States as we transition leaders. There is plenty on the line, so I understand the attention it warrants. There is far less fan fare when our leadership in the workplace changes, however the effects on your day to day life are arguably more impacted by those leaders, and the way we approach supporting them has even more of an impact.

Followership is one of the greatest skills you can learn. You must embrace the importance of being the strong foundation your leader's vision can rest upon. If you ever want to be a great leader one day, you can't skip the prerequisite of being a great follower at some point in your life. Being a great follower helps to aid in the understanding of what you're asking people to do for you. It helps to frame the importance of communication, having both the ability to listen and paint a vision for all to see. It gives you the much needed glimpse of the importance of not agreeing 100% with everything your leader says, but still standing behind them because of everything your leader does.

There is commonality in our feeling towards new leaders in the early days of their leadership such as: Why was this person chose to lead, what does this leader value, and what does this mean to my career? There is also the back of the mind thoughts such as: now I have to learn a new rulebook, now I have to rebuild my reputation, this person doesn't even know me, or all of this hard work for nothing. If these Debbie Downer thoughts are going through your head, you're not alone, however there is a much better way to look at it, and I'm not talking about some fake silver lining. I'm talking about a career altering opportunity here.

How many of you ever think back to high school, college, an old significant other, a former job and think about "what if"? What if I would have done this, or took on that, or chose to study this, or what if I would have stuck with that workout routine, where would I be now? Obviously, we can't do anything about those situations no matter how many late night hours are spent staring at our bedroom ceilings thinking about them. All we can do is effect the here and now. There is a good chance many of us will look back on today 10-15 years from now and how we responded to new leadership, and consider it a junction point (referenced in The Bounce Back) in our lives.

I believe you should look at a changing of the guard as a great opportunity. Something akin to going off to college and reinventing yourself. Regardless of what you've done in your past, new leadership gives you the opportunity to do it better! It's your chance to be a great team member, supporter, person and yes, a follower. It's a chance to break away from any established roles or pigeon holes you felt yourself taking on, and be a better version of yourself. You can start this by the way you support your new leader.

3 Ways to Support a New Leader:

  1. Take time to understand their vision. That vision will directly impact you and what's expected of you, make sure you understand deeper than a slide deck.

  2. Don't gossip or talk ill of others. If they're new to the team, let them form their own opinions of the team. Maybe your teammates are taking this as an opportunity to reinvent themselves as well. Besides, talking ill on someone speaks more of you than them.

  3. Proactively share information. New leaders don’t know what they don't know. Don't sit on information as a form of job protection, help build trust right off the bat by developing a strong communications channel.

There is a good chance you didn't get a say over which person would fill the leadership role. That's fine! Focus on controlling the controllable. Take this opportunity to better yourself, your reputation with leadership and take the lead of your career by being supportive of the new leadership. Besides, it has to offer good karma for when you take on a leadership role one day.

Note: All of the opinions expressed in this article are my own, and are not a reflection of the viewpoint of my employer.

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