When a leader takes over a team or organization, they usually arrive with their own ideas of what that team or organization ought to be doing. They have preconceived thoughts of what they want to achieve and how. Unfortunately, their plans do not always conform to those of the people who are already in that team or organization. The success of the leader depends on their ability to negotiate a compromise between what the organization is and what it should become.
Also, a leader’s vision for the organization might represent a superficial understanding of its actual circumstances. At first glance, most groups appear different from what they turn out to be upon close examination. First impressions can be very deceptive and plans made by outsiders are not always helpful. The leader is then left with the option of surrendering the ideas, brutally enforcing them, or finding a middle ground between the leader’s goals and the team’s needs.
He or she must learn to follow as much as much as they lead. The biggest and best organizations in the world are still made up of people; people have shortcomings and are unpredictable. Therefore leaders must be proficient at people management if they want to avoid the conflict and wasted resources that often characterize teams and organizations dealing with leadership transitions.
Most managers reach their function without sufficient training on how to lead a team from point A to B. Below are pointers to assist such leaders in making their takeover as smooth as possible. The first three points deal with studying the group, the last three deal with leading the team.
Understand Group Dynamics: Every group has an informal hierarchy, with strong, docile and neutral people. This power structure may or may not correspond to people’s recognized positions within the group. Being aware of hostilities, hidden sentiments and invisible factions will help the leader manage effectively.
Get Clarity On Roles: Along with the informal relationships, leaders must understand the functional structure of a group; identify competencies, weaknesses, and synergies. Insight into the team’s functions will reveal imbalances, training needs and competencies gaps.
Evaluate Performance: Is the group reaching its goals or is it underperforming? What are the possible causes of under-achievement? Who are the best and worst performers? Is it a problem of individual behaviour, the absence of critical skills, or inherited from the environment?
Win People: After the initial period of listening and learning, the leader should begin to build his or her power base by winning people over – starting with the less dominant members. This approach will weaken the hold of the stronger ones and shift control to the leader. Gaining trust at this point is more effective than asserting your position.
Reorganize The Group: This is important for dissolving or weakening cliques. It allows leaders to position themselves as the dominant influence in a group. However, reorganization is best carried out to improve performance or enhance relationships.
Lead: Having gained the upper hand, the leader should unfold the new path the group will be following. When a leader’s plans demonstrate the appreciation of the group’s difficulties, individual’s limitations, and reveals practical steps to address them, it easily gains support.
The process of entering, taking over and leading a group requires finesse; leaders must be both assertive and accommodating, depending on circumstances. By following the advice in this article, new leaders will be equipped to make a success of the endeavour.
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