What’s Your Secret?

Someone recently asked me whether there are any “secrets” to entering a new organization, whether as a board member, new executive or even at a more modest level?

Three things came to mind…

First, no matter how great your experience, recognize that you don’t yet know this organization. So start with an open and curious mind. Ask good questions. Take time to learn about the inner workings of the organization. What’s their essence? What are they about?

Start with an open and curious mind. Ask good questions. Take time to learn about the inner workings of the organization.

Next, start to test what you are hearing. Maybe they feel that their company is extremely innovative. Is it? When you look at them versus what the market is doing, this may be more of a story they are telling themselves than an accurate reflection of reality. In a collaborative and respectful manner, help them reach a more accurate perception of their current state.

At this point, you should have begun to establish trust. They see that your questions—and your responses to their answers—work in their best interest. You have demonstrated that engaging with you leads to progress and positive outcomes. If you’ve done the first two steps properly, you should be receiving invitations to step in deeper, such as “Could you help us with this situation?” and “What would you advise we do here?”

Now it’s time to step up and become a full participant, depending on your role. You have learned what’s actually happening. You have established trusted relationships. People know what to expect from you and how you work. You are ready to be effective. 

None of this is rocket science, but it is significantly different from the ways that some leaders make their presence known.

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Shirin shares lessons learned from a career of success in business.

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