Mistake #1: Don't be the "New Sheriff in Town"


I'm sure you've run into those old black & white films or TV series where a town "gone bad" receives the new sheriff who immediately claims absolute peace in the valley overnight and will hunt down, catch and jail every bad guy in town in 24 hours or less.

Over the course of years in leadership roles, I've seen too many of these corporate and entrepreneurial "sheriffs" take on the position...quickly assess incompetence, process and sales and turn their respective organization upside down...in a matter of weeks, even days. The result can be alienated managers and employees, the leader getting more decision making and change from their staff out of fear and not respect...and thinking their new company world order will immediately change the course of his or hers' organization's success.

I'm sure many of us at least once in our professional career accepted a position like this (I sure have, a number of times) and with the best of intentions we land into the firm like an F5 tornado ....provide a 15 minute power point presentation of our "New Vison " (oops without meeting a soul) THEN set 30 minute meetings with each direct report and Wahlah!... we have a 90 day business plan to fix sales, customer service, performance manage and instantly fix the culture.  My opinion is that this tactic has a very high failure rate.

Through trial and error here is what formula I've found to use your leadership skills experience and behaviors to best impact your new organization :   

You have no answers ....only questions.

Certainly, share your overarching vision of what your experience tells you what a good company looks like .... but with out living in that firm, speaking to not just managers but as many employees as possible and "living a day in their shoes" ...you'll miss your best intelligence regarding the firms current situation. Your first goal is to establish trust, encourage transparency through collaboration ... and whether its new or renewed building a sense that the only way to success is through maximizing the talent of the entire organization ...not just though your iron will.

  Try creating team roundtables and be there to listen, not criticize or change, and with these establish a team leader ( not always the manager of that team ) than will begin to facilitate change management .  This can be by business unit but encourage cross functional teams . Sales collaborating with Operation , Accounting collaborating with logistics as an example.  Have each build a situational analysis that clearly identifies the department/areas current situation ....poor sales, morale, logistics etc. Every team member agrees and owns this....Next have each team establish up to and not more than 3 objectives ...they can be 30-60-90 days or even annual.  Next, and here is where the "meat" comes into play...develop action points for each specific objective.

Every action point should include the action itself ,the responsible party (or parties) and a clear specific completion date for each.

It isn't owned by you but each entire team. This becomes their mantra, and you can even turn it into an MBO and quantifiable goals for bonus/income opportunity.

Now you have the proper ammunition to prioritize, develop a true corporate constituency and orchestrate a new winning culture.