I remember, many years ago, sitting in a boardroom, surrounded by thirteen unfamiliar faces. They were all looking in my direction, waiting for me to take the lead. It was then I realized that I had to activate the leadership switch within me. In an instant, I knew that there was no going back, that once activated, success or failure would be judged upon the results I managed to obtain from the people waiting for me to introduce myself.
The strange thing is that I had previously run a business, I had had employees. I had even been the COO of a company with offices dotted all over the globe. But never before had I felt so alone, there was no one I knew to fall back on. I was in that instant the program director of a large and complex project, in a environment where everything was new. All the talk of the selection process was over. It was up to me to take control, to show leadership, to inspire.
There is nothing quite like being an interim leader, brought into a business where everyone knows one another, where pacts and allegiances have been drawn up, long, long ago and all you know are the faces and names of the people in front of you. Similar circumstances occur when employees of large multi-nationals take on new roles in offices oversees. In this situation the new incumbent has the additional task of winning over the employees around the table that wanted their job.
To be successful, the new leader must let go of the past. The collaborative team player must become a beacon of confidence and control. The new leader needs to accept that complaining about the boss with a colleague by the coffee machine, is a thing of the past. They are the boss now and all they can and should do is to find new ways of making all those around them feel comfortable in the knowledge that a new leader has entered room; that the person in front of them has a strategy and a plan that will deliver the required results. That if they stick with him (or her) and commit to the tasks they are allocated, one day everyone will be able to bask in the glory of having completed a successful mission.
If it hasn’t happened to you yet, then sooner or later it probably will. And when it does, all you need to be sure of is that you have a group of loyal and supportive friends back home to advise and motivate you through the lonely times when the correct path forward is not clear.
Have a good week