We were nearing the end of our live-online leadership program with an amazing group of start-up CEOs at Bulb Africa in Nigeria, and it was time for Q&A (or, as I like to call it, “Asking For a Friend.“) when one brave CEO asked about how to change his leadership approach.
I’m listening carefully to everything you’ve said. I’m taking notes. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve read some good books too …
And it’s very clear to me that I’m not leading like I should. I need to change my leadership approach.
I need to do better.
But how do I do that NOW?
How do I start leading differently without confusing my team or losing credibility as their leader?
Okay. First of all YES!
Let’s just stop right here and celebrate.
It takes real humility to admit you can do better.
AND to want to figure out how.
AND to be concerned about how your team will respond.
That’s a trifecta of great signs that this new CEO is going to do just fine.
If you’re reading this, a big YES! to you too.
I’m glad you know you can do better and are interested in honing your leadership approach.
So let’s talk about how to bring your team along with you.
Upgrade Your Leadership Approach Without Freaking Out Your Team
If you suddenly change your leadership approach, your team will likely have three questions:
And, will it last?
You can reduce this kind of angst with a bit of transparency.
1. Share What You’re Working On
Here’s the truth. If you’ve been leading poorly, your team already knows. So, don’t be afraid to share what you’ve learned.
“I really care about you and this team and I want to be the best leader I can be. I’ve been investing in my leadership development and I’m going to be trying some new approaches to serve you and the team better.”
Or, “I just attended this great leadership program (or read this book), and I’ve been learning a lot. I realize I have some areas in which I can improve.”
2. Get Specific
It helps if you can be as specific as possible about what you’re looking to do differently.
“I’m working on my leadership” will likely be met with an eye roll and a “let’s just wait and see” attitude.
But, it helps if you say, “I’ve learned some great techniques for holding remote one-on-ones and I going to try them this week.” Or, I’ve realized I need to get a better grip on my emotions during times of stress, so I’m really going to work on that.”
3. Invite Them on the Journey
And finally, ask for their help. “I’d love to get your feedback on how this is ________ is working for you. Let’s give it a month, and I’ll circle back for your thoughts on what’s working and what else I can do to continue to improve.”
NOTE: If you’ve attended a course, read a book, or have a long list of things to do better, pick one or two to start. Any more than that will be overwhelming to both you and your team.