Why is it crucial for new leaders to have information access?
When executives move up the corporate ladder, there is often just one handover meeting (if they are lucky) or only the predecessor’s empty office to walk into with a few informal conversations wishing them well. However, at the beginning of their new journey, one touchpoint is not enough to prep them for their new role.
A complete lack of an onboarding process, in some cases, makes the transition more difficult, leaving new leaders to “figure things out” and essentially fend for themselves. This could have less-than-optimal results, ranging from an information gap to career derailment to exiting the role.
What we need, then, is a system where information is shared and exchanged effortlessly. There’s a saying- data is power. What it really means is that the information we gather from data is what runs the world of business.
Not being armed with the knowledge of both the positives and the negatives often derails any reasonable effort to hire leaders. Moreover, it almost sets them up for failure and delays their success by several months.
We have had the opportunity to sit in on hiring meetings for some clients. Usually, we find that an honest conversation establishes better trust in both parties. Conversations that say things like
“Oh, you can figure it out as we go along.”
“We’re leaving it to you to lead us in the right direction.”
“We’re a fast-moving system, so things change every day.”
Are actually trying to say, “Here’s a situation that we’re not too sure how to handle. We hope you’ll come in and do that for us.”
Usually, when a leader is brave enough to sign up for a role after a conversation like this, it leads to several missed targets and disappointment. As a result, progress is stalled.
Here are a few ways of making information more accessible across the board, from day one to several years into the future.
At an interpersonal level:
A clear communique of the new leader’s job mandate to the team and the leaders themselves is a must. We’d even recommend putting this in writing and getting as precise as possible.
- Support from management in clearing up misconceptions or preconceived notions among the staff members. This is particularly important when leaders are being promoted from within the organization.
- An effort at integration that goes beyond standard orientation processes makes the new leader feel secure in their role and helps them confidently become a contributing member of the organization.
At the business level:
Certain factors may delay when new leaders can begin having an impact in their new roles:
- Insufficient immersion in the company’s mission, vision, and values
- An inadequate grasp of business processes
- Being a cultural misfit and unable to forge alliances
- Disagreements over strategy and design
- Inability to identify and align with stakeholders
When coupled with a lack of access to data and information, all of these factors can be significant determinants in a new leader’s ability to perform and meet expectations.
New leaders can immensely benefit from a structured integration program that puts an emphasis on learning at all levels within an organization. We usually recommend deep-dive meetings with all relevant teams, demonstrating that cross-channel communication is not just possible but also desirable.
In general, a culture of continuous learning and information sharing seeds better performance and fosters a culture of innovation and creates an atmosphere for new leadership to thrive.
A new leader needs to form as accurate a picture as possible of the organisation and the various stakeholders to help prioritize and focus their efforts on solving problems and making decisions right off the bat.
Information sharing is a critical enabler of a new leader’s success or failure: often, a new leader does not lack the skills for a smooth foray into operational leadership, but their effort can be stymied by a lack of access to the right information. Further, not demonstrating their awareness of operational issues damages new leaders’ credibility and ability to make the right decisions. Any opportunities to demonstrate their skills and build their reputation are, therefore, lost before they arise.
There can be nothing more valuable than data, analytics, and all formats of information for a new leader when it comes to formulating strategy. A culture of transparency is not hard to achieve but takes everyday effort, and people who are willing to celebrate when they’re right and accept that they can sometimes be wrong.