How to Handle a Leadership Change in Your Organization

Most human beings resist change. After all, the unknown is uncomfortable. Changes in leadership are no exception — with them comes a natural apprehension. What direction will the new leader take? How does that impact your future? 

However, with the right mindset and a smart approach, changes in leadership can lead to great opportunities. They say that nothing good ever came easy. Keep that in mind as you face a change in leadership at your organization and be proactive about putting in the work to ensure this particular change is good. 

Be True to Yourself

Adapting to new leadership doesn’t mean transforming yourself. Any great leader is looking for people who are authentic and transparent, so instead of trying to be who you think the new person wants, be real. Common mistakes that people make include the extremes of hiding out to escape scrutiny or going over the top in trying to befriend the new leader. You don’t want to come across as a “yes” person, but you do want to show your value and your openness to a new direction and focus. The best advice is to just be who you are.

Observe and Listen

You’ve probably done some research about the new leader, but you need to see them in action before you can determine what they’re truly like. When you have a feel for their leadership style and a clear understanding of their vision for the first 100 days, you can more effectively communicate your role in terms of the value it adds for them. Think in terms of output and results that will support their goals versus day-to-day tasks and responsibilities. Once you’ve overviewed your current role and contributions, it’s time to listen again — this time by asking how you can even better support their primary objectives. 

Expect and Accept Change

New leadership is often only the beginning of changes to come. Maybe the new leader was brought in specifically to increase sales or strengthen margins. Maybe they have been tasked with streamlining workflows and improving efficiency. Or maybe they want to develop company culture and build morale. These objectives often result in structural changes to specific job descriptions, team structures, overall departmental goals, and even to the way meetings and communication are structured. 

Make sure you know how success is defined under the new leadership and be open to the fact that this may change your current day-to-day experience. It requires flexibility on your part to move away from the way things have always been done, but remember that they’re making these changes to benefit the business — it isn’t a reflection of your personal performance.

Reevaluate Your Past Performance

This period of change should encourage you to make some changes of your own. Do a critical, objective review of your role and the way you work. Determine ways you can improve and adapt to align with leadership objectives and to better support your teammates. Once you’ve put thought into this, share your plan with management and confirm that your efforts are focused in the right direction.

Many positives emerge from new leadership. While such a significant change can feel unsettling, it also presents exciting new opportunities. With the right perspective and proactiveness, leadership change can be a catalyst for you to advance in ways that you never expected.