How to Successfully Take Over a Team

“Taking over as the leader of an existing team can be daunting,” the Liane Davey writes in the Harvard Business Review.

“The team’s response to your new processes or style can make you feel a little like the evil stepmother who’s stepped into their formerly happy lives. Your team was once someone else’s team. They’ve developed habits in response to the preferences of the previous leader. Adjusting those habits is going to be challenging, but there are things you can do to make the transition easier on all of you.”

Here are three common mistakes made frequently:

Trying to be a friend rather than a leader. “While I urge you to be aware of and empathetic to the whiplash your team might be experiencing in going from one leader to another, it’s a mistake to allow that empathy to translate into weak leadership. Investing too much energy in befriending the team confuses the power relationships and ultimately increases the likelihood of a backlash when you begin to exert your control.”

Expressing frustration with the quality of team. “The team you inherit is the product of its previous leader: what team members pay attention to and what they’re good at is a reflection of what that leader expected of them. If your expectations are different, you need to help your team make that shift.”

Attempting to force trust and candor too quickly. “Many new team leaders want to create a frank and transparent culture from the start. While that’s a noble objective, exposing contentious issues too soon can be destabilizing. Until team members have had time to build their confidence and see how you handle uncomfortable topics, too much candor will do more harm than good.”

Fast Company has a related article featuring 18 ways to take charge of a new team quickly.

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