Leadership transitions can be times of turmoil, excitement, and a broad range of mixed emotions among employees. For leaders, it can be tempting to play it safe for a couple of reasons: a desire to not rock the boat and a tendency to focus more on the operational side of the business while ignoring the aspirational side. This timidity or lack of vision, although well-intended, can ultimately hinder the new leader’s ability to take the business to the next level.
For organizations that want to be the best, it is critical that new leadership does not fall into the trap of settling for good enough. Not only will a new leader’s own legacy as a leader suffer, but it could also have lasting consequences for the company. Leaders should always be pushing for great and not just good; that is why they are in a position of leadership. Fortunately, there are some tactics you can employ to help avoid this common pitfall.
How to Overcome Settling for Good Enough
During a leadership transition, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the new role. Early in the process, take a step back and ask these questions:
Are operational issues being handled sufficiently?
In order for a business to go from good to great, all of the practical ducks must be in a row. If this is not the case, a new leader should continue to leverage company- and industry-specific knowledge to effectively deal with technical matters. Identify the existing issues and develop a plan to deal with them. When the major problems are solved, it’s time to delegate ongoing maintenance so the leader can focus on the larger vision for the organization while the day-to-day operations are handled by a trusted team. Although it is absolutely critical to have an operation that runs smoothly, leadership cannot constantly be bogged down in those details if greatness is the goal.
What is happening in the world that might affect the business?
It’s not uncommon for new leaders to become so focused on the internal organizational issues that they become blind to the external forces that might affect the company. During a leadership transition, be mindful of supplementing technical and operational skills with the ability to sense external influences and identify the need for organizational change. These could be political events, changes in the marketplace, economic trends, and more. This external focus will enable leaders to recognize when a change is needed and determine which people and resources to draw upon to make it happen.
What resources can I tap to gain a different perspective?
Along with having an eye on external factors, it is important to broaden your own perspective on the business by building networks with people from outside of the organization and possibly even outside the industry. This type of leadership development can be achieved by participating in industry associations, or community organizations, or holding a position on a board. Peer-networking groups are also great resources for connecting with other leaders and gaining new perspectives.
Most leaders don’t aim to settle for just good enough, but when they find themselves in a new position, it’s easy to become wrapped up in the inner workings of the organization. This is important initial work, but once the ship is righted, it will be time to set sail. Chart a new course by looking externally and learning from others who have similar experiences. When leaders look to the horizon, they can take a company from good to best in class.
Dave joined Eagle’s Flight in 1991 after having spent a number of years with a Toronto-based accounting firm. Since that time, he has held a number of posts within the company, primarily in the areas of Operations, Finance, Legal, and IT. In his current role as both Chief Financial Officer and President, Global Business, Dave is focused on ensuring the company’s ongoing financial health as well as growing its global market share. In pursuing the latter, Dave’s wealth of experience and extensive business knowledge has made him a valued partner and trusted advisor to both our global licensees and multinational clientele.
About Eagle's Flight
Founded in 1988, Eagle's Flight has earned its reputation as a global leader in the development and delivery of business-relevant, experiential learning programs that achieve specific training objectives and lasting behavior changes.