Mastering Leadership Transitions: How to Navigate Team Resistance


It’s an all-too-common tale: You enter a new leadership role with high expectations that your team will embrace you and your leadership approach. But soon enough, you realize things aren’t quite falling into place. Expectations don’t seem to be aligned, you’re not sure how to help them navigate the change in leadership, and you feel disoriented – like you don’t have your bearings on this new team yet.

It would be easy to believe things will just get better with time; these are just normal growing pains. But if you fail to properly set expectations and establish clear communication with your team, it leads to a slippery slope where these “tiny” growing pains can become major issues later on. Doing this right could mean the difference between a high-functioning team and one that’s headed straight for disaster.

So, how do you get your feet up under you as a leader and set the foundation for your new team? Follow these three steps:

1) Identify expectation gaps

What are the areas where you find yourself stumbling to lead this new team? In what ways is the team operating that is not working for you? What patterns are you noticing where your expectations seem misaligned? Make a list of all the instances that come to mind. You’ll likely notice some themes that will help you narrow down the areas that need to be addressed with your team.

2) Set clear expectations

What are your deal-breakers and must-haves? What needs to be done differently within this team? Make a list of your expectations, and make sure they are explicitly clear. It’s a good practice to have clear examples that go along with each.

3) Show consistent follow-through

After you’ve met with your team and communicated these expectations, make sure you follow through accordingly. For example, if you set an expectation that everyone has their camera on during Zoom meetings, and then the next meeting someone has their camera off, don’t just let it slide. Be sure to address the issue with that individual and with the team appropriately.

Ok, but how do I set these expectations with my new team without disrupting the status quo / coming off as too harsh?

Again, team assimilation is a crucial step in the leadership process. Unfortunately, it’s often skipped altogether, or it’s boiled down to an email and a few one-on-ones, which is simply not enough. Doing this right could mean the difference between a high-functioning team and one that’s headed straight for disaster.

This is one key issue that I love helping my clients with during my VIP Day Leadership Accelerator sessions.

In just a few hours, we’re able to identify the areas that need to be addressed and outline an agenda for a team assimilation meeting so you can clarify expectations with your new team.

You’ll leave this session with a clear game plan and some practice role-plays to help you feel confident going back to your team and responding to any of their concerns.

If you’re working with a new team, don’t skip this important step in the leadership process. Click here to book a call today and see if a VIP Day is the right solution for you.

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