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New leader
14th October 2022

The Impact of New Leaders

Stuart Thomson


When a new leader takes over an organisation it can be quite a worrying time. It can often be unclear what the new appointment means both personally and for the organisation. What should you be looking out for and how can you make the most of the appointment?

It is always reassuring to consider that new leaders come into organisations all the time. It is part of an organisation’s natural life cycle. New appointments can breathe life and ideas into the organisation, but poor appointments can be made as well.

As a new member of the team, such senior level changes can be quite disconcerting. It can though be interesting to consider the tone of the communication about the appointment. The communication can provide tell-tale signs about the future. If there is little change in tone or approach, then that would indicate ‘business as usual’ but strong messages about the future could indicate a change of approach.

There are three approaches that a new leader can adopt:

1)     Operation continuation – little change in approach, which can often be the case when an organisation is performing well. New leaders in such scenarios are often chosen because of their ability to maintain an already established successful course.

2)     Power to review – a new leader will want to put their fingerprints on an organisation but does not believe that wholesale change is required. Reviews may be undertaken, and these will have strong internal flavour in terms of who is leading them, and the questions posed.

3)     All change – the new leader believes that radical, wholesale change is needed. This can often happen if it is failing or has recently had to deal with a crisis. There may be a reputation to rebuild. The questions posed in any reviews will be tougher and outside expertise in leading them can be expected. There is also a higher chance of churn, in terms of people as well.

None of these scenarios should prevent people, at all levels, from expressing their views. New leaders often like to hear from the teams already in place. What works? What could be done better?

So, always look at the positives and see having a new leader as a chance to impress. There could be formal opportunities for such engagement but grab those informal opportunities as well. The 5-minute introduction and discussion can make a lasting impression. That is especially the case in the office when few have yet returned. Try to grab some time with them, make an impression early and potentially convey your ideas to them.

All three scenarios also demonstrate the real value there can be in such formal processes as appraisals. Far from being a pointless exercise in administration, a good appraisal can improve personal development and set the objectives that can help stand-out from others. Exactly the sort of qualities new leaders will be looking for.

Rather than being a time to worry, change at the top should be viewed as an opportunity to grasp but that can only happen if you embrace the change rather than fighting against it.


Read Stuart Thomson’s take on the role of public affairs here

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