Working your way up to a C-level executive position can be an exciting achievement, but the mindset that many maintain when they accomplish this feat can set them up for failure down the road.
While you are the leader of the company and are expected to grow it and carry it forward, you will need to be receptive as well, listening to the needs and ideas of those who are working with you. For those who are just coming into a company, the initial onboarding process may seem like a time to find out who works there and to see the system behind how things are being run.
These are only two pieces of the puzzle, however, and in order to be a truly effective leader, you have to make sure that you are taking the time to learn more about those who work in the company as well as how you can make valuable changes within the company as well.
If you have just landed a C-level executive position and want to make sure that you start off on the right foot, here are three steps to preparing yourself for successful leadership that you will need to follow when you first enter a company.
1. Engage in Mindful Listening During Listening Tours.
CEOs or other C-level executives who take listening tours of their new companies forget that this is the prime time to evaluate the current state of their organization and to learn where their skills and guidance will be most needed. A tour is never just an introduction. It is an opportunity to learn!
As with every aspect of your new position, you are going to need to pay careful attention to every portion of each tour, ask questions, and engage with those who are showing you around the company that you will be running. Not only is mindful listening a skill that will make your job easier when you start taking on the work, but it will also help you develop better relationships with people on your team.
As I stated in my book, In Great Company, one study conducted in 2018 that assessed the interactions between public speakers with engaged groups and with distracted groups found that those who were speaking to engaged listeners felt significantly less anxious and were able to easily connect with these individuals while providing a more beneficial demonstration.
Put simply, active listening results in better communication, which is essential if you plan on doing your job to the best of your ability and build relationships with the people who will be helping you to ensure your company’s success. Find out what drives them, their passions, their purpose – and how you can help them get there. Give of yourself and what you can do for them, and good things will follow.
2. Carefully Observe Your Surroundings and the Processes Currently in Place.
All companies have areas that need improvement, regardless of the success that they have achieved to date. As the new leader of a company, it is your responsibility to take the time to examine a company’s processes and operations in order to identify those weaknesses and to implement better practices that will spur growth and generate positive results.
There is no better time than a company tour to begin evaluating where they have potential and where they may be failing. As you are brought through the different departments and taught how things work, ask yourself, what could we do better? Where can we improve, and how can I begin to make those improvements? What is working for us, and what needs to be adjusted or removed?
One excellent example of this from, In Great Company, is the rebound of then-suffering Best Buy. In 2012, Best Buy was buckling under the weight of its poor management, losing profits and customers rapidly as they failed to make necessary changes to their current structure. Fortunately, enough, Hubert Joly took the reins by utilizing their base of existing employee talent and enthusiasm and injecting his own vision to reinvigorate the company and bring it back to profitability and relevance.
Of course, his vision won’t be the same as your vision, but the important takeaway from the example above is that there are always existing positive qualities of a company that you can leverage while you support the areas that are failing. A good CEO pays close attention to how their company operates and makes the necessary changes to ensure its future success.
3. Develop a Report That Will Help You Cultivate a Better Future for the Company.
Behind every great execution stands a well-thought-out, organized plan. While remaining attentive and being inquisitive are two invaluable skills that will help you get the most out of the initial onboarding process with your new company, taking everything that you have learned and crafting a detailed plan of how you will move forward is the next logical step.
One great way to accomplish this is by organizing your thoughts and ideas into a PowerPoint. There you can figure out the strengths and weaknesses of your company, what aspects you want to nurture and grow, what things you need to change or replace, and what unique talents you can contribute to the company. This is also a great time to layout your core values and to figure out your approach to your new leadership position.
Continuing with the above example, Joly improved the company through actions such as:
● Aligning strategy with structure by lowering prices to meet customer demands while still providing the excellent service that their employees were known for. They also allowed for more flexibility so that they could quickly respond to change and allowed their employees to succeed at what they did best.
● Setting people up to succeed by providing the necessary training that helped the organization meet your clear-cut goals.
● Playing to win by continuously seeking growth, opportunity, and success.
● Fostering resilience by focusing on strengths and tackling issues where present.
With the right outline for success combined with your own infusion of talent, you can carry your company to victory!
Being a successful leader begins as soon as you accept a C-level position, but not everyone knows exactly how to start off on the right foot. If you believe that the guide above will help you successfully make the transition, make sure to read In Great Company: How to Spark Peak Performance By Creating an Emotionally Connected Workplace to gain more insight into what great leadership looks like!