You’re in Charge Now – What Next?

Leadership Excellence Trust

Being thrust into a leadership role can be one of the most frightening experiences of your career.


Many organizations groom prospective leaders to take on bigger responsibilities.  They test their prospects with leadership roles throughout their career.  But, more often than not, you are thrust into leadership roles unexpectedly and without warning.


If you are like most first time leaders, you have not received  leadership training or coaching.


Mistakes to Avoid

After getting over the shock, you are struck with what to do to begin to build the confidence and trust of your team.   Many new leaders make the mistake of believing they need to know everything and have ALL the answers.


They also fall into the trap of believing they need to behave like their predecessor.  Many of the best leaders build on their own unique leadership style.

Don’t Panic

But there is no reason to panic, as one of the ways the more successful leaders build rapport and trust is to meet with their team.  They meet as a group and one on one.

And, the smart leaders use these meetings to discover what is on the minds of the people you are now leading.  In addition, they gather ideas team members have for achieving organizational goals.

Path to Success

Your success as a leader will be dependent upon the buy-in and degree of ownership your team has in the strategies you implement.  Your team will be much more accepting of you and your strategies if they believe they have contributed to the development of these strategies.  They will support you if they believe they have been listened to and that their ideas have value.


In addition, a side benefit of these meetings is that you will have a chance to evaluate the members of your team.  You can begin to determine who you can count on to play critical roles in the execution of your strategies.

Your Leadership Style

Do you know your unique leadership style?  If you would like a free assessment send an email to and put “leadership style” in the subject line.  I will send you a link to a leading leadership profile assessment tool, at no cost to you.

If you want to learn about leadership styles from a variety of leaders in a diverse set of industry groups, check out my book:  “A Garage Full of Ferraris: How to unleash the potential in your high-performance teams to drive extraordinary results”


Leadership Excellence Trust

shutterstock_168606473Successful leaders know how to empower the members of their team.  They know that they will not succeed unless they do.



Understanding and Accountability

“If you have a common understanding of the mission and vision, and have conducted a deliberate exercise to create strategies to execute the mission and create the vision, then you have a basis for communication and a basis for accountability and measurement.” – Hank Holland

To get to the heart of the matter, I went back to the leader who had done the best job of empowering his team and accomplishing the goals he set out to achieve. When I asked Hank about empowerment and ownership, Hank first honed in on the importance of clear communication. He held a number of jobs where the people he hired came to him with a plethora of backgrounds and experiences. Hank always took time to ensure his expectations were understood. He realized the negative impact on performance that would result when people were unclear on what was expected of them. Hank was a strong proponent of empowerment. He taught me how important it was for senior executives to focus on strategic issues and delegate as much as possible to the people on their team. He was always encouraging me to stay out of the weeds.
Accountability Is Part of Empowerment

Hank also told me that he thought the word accountability needed to be added alongside empowerment and ownership, and that to some extent, the three words were synonyms. He has always been a strong proponent of processes. As he talked me through his philosophy, he said it started with a clear understanding of the organization’s mission and vision. He was quick to point out that he was not talking about a vision in the grandiose sense – but more like a target. He said, “Where do we want to be in three years, and what will that look like?” He then walked me through a process, which took the mission and vision down to quarterly goals that could be measured. “After that, it is all about execution.”
The Characteristics of Empowerment

Before Hank went any further, he reflected upon the times in his career when he was empowered or empowered others. He said:
“I asked myself in those situations what characteristics were always in play. To me, there was always an element of trust; there was always an element of open communication and mutual respect, which would go along with trust.”
He added that when it came to processes he had always been a big believer in the mission, vision, strategy, objectives, goals, and milestones way of doing things.
To facilitate open communication, which is required to monitor the achievement of the goals and objectives, both the leader and the subordinate need to be in total agreement on what the goals are. Once they both buy in to the goals and how they will be measured, they have a basis for the communication that needs to take place. Having worked under Hank’s “system,” I was very appreciative of the kind of dialogue about achieving goals that occurred on a regular basis. These discussions were not without some stressful moments, particularly when something unexpected came up, but in no way did the discussions come across as micro-managing. Having regular sessions to review achievements against a plan sent a message that the goals were important and hitting the milestones was a necessary part of reaching the goals. These sessions also enabled mid-course corrections, which were frequently needed to get activities back on track.
The Process Conversation

Hank brought the discussion back to educating and enabling by reminding me of the goal that he and I had worked on at Landmark. He recalled asking me to tell him what we needed to achieve the goals we were committing to. He expected that a big part of it would be training. Not surprisingly, he was right. Given that we would be growing the organization from sixty to three hundred and sixty consultants, we would need a lot of training to deliver quality solutions to our clients. “An executive needs to understand what his team needs.”