Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Popular Leader Got The Boot, Now You're In Charge

What happens when the popular leader gets the boot and his successor is experiencing a bumpy transition...and he doesn't have the same personality? There is a management team in San Diego living this very dilemma and it's a learning experience for all leaders.

In recent times, the San Diego Sports franchise replaced a successful, charismatic leader with a successful but laid back leader. The franchise has struggled of late and the players are starting to long for the previous regime. Read what one player is saying about the new leader in an article written by Yahoo! Sports' Michael Silver:

"Norv's not going to give you a Knute Rockne speech," said one Chargers player, "so you're going to have to find a different way to get yourself up. Look at it this way: We had a lot of young guys who came straight from college and then played for Marty. In some cases, they had eight consecutive years of a coach screaming at you and telling you what to do and how to do it. Now you're all of a sudden supposed to be a professional and do it on your own?"

If this player reported to you, how would you take his comments? What would you do? The leader (coach) talked about in the story is taking the comments in stride. Is he feeling the pressure? Yes. However, the coach is aware change is difficult for some. Because he understands change, he is proactively taking steps to facilitate a smooth transition. Here are four suggestions for Coach Norv and other leaders in transition:

As the new leader you need to take charge.
When replacing a former leader, especially a great one, the expectations are going to be high. However, you must let your team know you're committed to the success of the team and their personal success. You do this by communicating your vision and objectives, and sharing what role they play in achieving the vision. Get focused and organized.

Build trust and credibility.
Everyone is watching you. You've been chosen to lead for a reason. Let your "light" shine and help others to shine too. Don't let your ego get in the way. In the end, actions speak louder than words.

Be accountable.
We're all accountable to someone. It would be a sin to hold your team accountable, yet not hold yourself accountable. Don't ask your team to go where you will not go.

Listen to your team.
Want your team members to long for the past leader? Ignore their ideas and don't take the time to get to know them. Now don't be a total flake and give the reins to the team members; but do give them your ear and respect. Remember, you've been chosen to lead for a reason.

As the coach in the above scenario is discovering, when things go bad people remember the guy you replaced. Success is sure fire way to help others forget about that other guy. You can't win everyone over to your side, but you can earn respect. You must do what's best for the organization; be true to yourself and team; and learn from your mistakes.

Check out the sports article "Empty Message" by Michael Silver, Yahoo writer to read more about the coach of interest in this post.

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