Career Trends: Five things to remember on your first day as a leader

4 min read

Edition: September 27th, 2021
Curated by the Knowledge Team of ICS Career GPS

The attitude of the workforce in accepting and emulating leadership traits has changed but the challenges are the same. (Image Credit: iStock)

The first day a leader assumes the office is always very special. The humble ones reflect on those who helped them get there; the arrogant ones are already planning their next step and how to ‘exact vengeance’ on those who bruised their egos or hampered their rise to the corner office; while the diffident ones are terrified – reading up on the latest jargon, from sustainability to management, just to look the part.  

But, there is one common theme that runs through all of these feelings – a sense of uncertainty and unease. And there’s no universal manual to refer to.

Here are a few pointers to help you chart your course towards successful leadership: 

1. Enter with confidence – but always be gracious 

  • In the first month, express gratitude to all who got you there, as well as those that will be in your team.
  • Make sure you use the words “working with you,” and not “you’ll be working for me.” 
  • The initial view of you has to be that you listen more than you talk.
  • You have already got the job, so don’t try to convince people that you belong anymore.
  • It will work in your favour if you highlight that you are actually nervous, and that you need the team’s help to succeed.

2. Take immediate command of your ship 

  • Change the office dynamic early in your appointment. (This includes simple things like rearranging the office structure, meeting dates, and report formats.)
  • The main reason is to help the rest of the organisation know that there is a new leader.
  • But be careful that you don’t trash your predecessor and are vigilant to cut off those who do try to do that.
  • Make both functional and cosmetic changes to ensure that the change is visible.  

3. Weed out the ‘cunning’, ‘scheming’ and ‘unscrupulous

  • Take stock of your team – usually, you will have an up-crop of sycophants, who may feel nice to have around you as they feed your ego. However, keep your mind open and take what they say with a pinch of salt.
  • The most difficult challenge will come from those who desired your job and are very capable.
  • Sometimes, the board or senior management forces these people onto you.
  • Firing them will take away their expertise too.
  • Try and see if you can establish a healthy work relationship with them.
  • But if you feel that you have to constantly look over your shoulder due to a member of your management team, you may have to get rid of them.  

4. Define your legacy with success

  • Focus on a tangible investment or progress that you can point to within a year, and within three years.
  • Legacies are defined by things people can see.
  • You want your stakeholders to exclaim: “That company you see, that company we own now, she built it, or he bought it.” 
  • That’s what you want. Of course, you also want the company you bought to make money! 

5. Radiate positivity

  • Remember that you are the soul of your division or company.
  • Be happy and radiate that positive spirit.
  • When you travel or meet people, a very important part of the job is for people to know you are happy.
  • That starts from the time the doorman greets you, through to when the tea boy comes to your office, right up till the end of day.
  • Don’t forget, everyone talks when they leave your office.
  • So, if co-workers ask, “How was it?” You want the answer to be: “Always a pleasure.”  

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the article mentioned above are those of the author(s). They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of ICS Career GPS or its staff.)

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