Deconstructing the Unknown

When organizations undergo change, one of the commonly expressed concerns is dealing with the unknown. Leaders who are directly involved with the change process will be well served if they take time to anticipate specific concerns and diffuse them before they take on a life of their own.

In order to illustrate this, I’ll use the example of the departure of a senior leader who is replaced by someone from outside the organization. Inevitably, there is buzz about the newcomer. What is she like? What changes will he make? Will it be business as usual or will things change dramatically? And the most important….

…How is this going to affect me personally?

The new leader needs to keep in mind all of the unspoken chatter that is implicit in this question. Will she take me seriously? How is he going to understand how I think? What if he doesn’t value my contributions? Will she take an interest in me? I thought I was going to get her job – how am I going to save face among my co-workers?

These are some of the deeper questions that underscore the unknown in this example. An incoming leader who is savvy and sensitive can put these concerns to rest in fairly short order.

If you are transitioning into a new role, think about how you can anticipate and deconstruct such concerns in a respectful and dignified manner. How might you approach your new direct reports to tease out any trepidation and begin the process of building trust?

Remember that one size doesn’t fit all, so this will take some thoughtful planning based on the unique situation that you are entering. Take comfort, though, in knowing that the effort you make initially will have a big payoff, so make it happen!

Before leaving you today, I’m delighted to share my recently published article on virtual leaders in Leadership Excellence Essentials.

Have a great week!

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