The conference room is quiet. The mostly veteran team is looking at each other, not saying much, other than a whisper or two. There is nervous energy in the air. In about 30 minutes, they’ll be meeting their new leader. She has a wealth of industry experience, but she’s replacing a person who had been with the team and organization for fifteen years. They wonder what she will be like to work with, what are her expectations? Will she leave them alone, or will she change everything?

Nicole is about to meet the new team that’s in the conference room. She’s excited and very anxious. She knows it will be a challenge. In hiring her, the organization’s leadership indicated their vision of the future of her unit was to be more proactive and creative than they have been. They told her the team was very talented with a wealth of experience, all of which pleased her. Yet they admitted uncertainty about whether they would or could change their ways, and that’s what made her the most anxious.

The question on her mind was whether this team would be focused on preserving history, or will they be able to make a shift and focus on making new history. She wanted them to make new history.

In my career, I’ve been one of those people in the conference room a couple of times, waiting to meet a new leader. I’ll admit I didn’t always have the right perspective; it was more like “don’t rock my boat” or “let me do what I do well and like to do”. That’s a normal reaction from team members meeting a new leader.

If you are getting a new leader, don’t do what I’ve done. Learn from me. I’ve also been the leader who is ready to meet a new team. I’m here to tell you Nicole’s question is the right question. Are you ready to make new history?

If that is the question, what do you need to do to be ready to answer that question when you have a new leader?

  1. Don’t hold on tightly – Remember, there are always multiple ways to accomplish the same goal. Prepare yourself mentally to let go of your processes but remain focused on what needs to be accomplished.
  2. Don’t live in the past – There are many organizations that lived in the past, admiring their success and missing opportunities in front of them. Sadly, they don’t exist anymore. Don’t be one of them. The past is where you learn, not where live.
  3. Be ready to learn – Whether you are at the beginning, middle or end of your career, you always have something to learn. In school, each new class offered a chance to learn something new. Accept that your new leader has something to teach you, you will benefit from it.

I believe God wants us to always be moving forward, not holding on tight or looking backward. I love what St. Paul said to the church of Philippi.

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3: 13-14

In the job description of all leaders is to comfort the irritable and irritate the comfortable. If your new leader is irritating you, ask yourself why?

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