Onboarding of a new leader
with support and coaching by experienced leaders
No matter a new leader’s track record or the circumstances of their next role, one thing remains clear: their appointment is the result of a lengthy, expensive, and balanced selection process. What that means is that it is no option to throw the leader in at the deep end and see if they sink or swim. At this level, with these stakes, failure is not an option.
Onboarding marks the difference between doing your best and achieving your best
That’s why our coaches do not lose sight of the all-important details that will make or break a new leader’s tenure. Learning to listen to the subtle nuances in communications with their stakeholders, peers and superiors; prioritizing the right elements of the journey at the right time and making sure you don’t forget the crucial minutiae; understand the importance of first impressions and timely results, however small—these are the things that never magically “fall into place”.
Onboarding is much more than supporting a new leader’s transitions and bringing them safely on deck. It’s about supporting them so that they can make a difference
“I like the fact that my coach has gone through the same experiences and can share her extensive knowledge with me. Our conversations are very open but can also be confrontational sometimes. It has given me a lot of comfort and ideas in my first year as a CFO.”
Let’s talk about onboarding… “the move” and its implications
When it comes to defining and launching a new role for an executive, things can go many ways. To keep a clear view, it is important to distill the essentials, which almost always has to do with the change the context and requires a clear recognition of the expected transition.
This is why an onboarding program with the coaches at NGL is designed to do so much more than simply bring a leader on board: it speeds them on their way to enduring success and supports them in the difference they can make.
A vertical move – promotion to a leadership role
When a new executive is promoted to a leadership role for the first time, he/she steps into a totally new world of responsibility. The leader is moving up and that brings with it a key change of perspective: true leadership is not “managing more” but being “more than a manager.”
Our coaches safeguard and enrich this transition from highly successful manager to effective leader by focusing on some key shifts in the professional’s mindset:
- from transactional to transformational
- from getting things done to shepherding talent towards success
- from leading subordinates to leading through inspiration and influence
- from doing things right to doing the right things
Two key and connected aspects of this journey are energizing the new leader’s team and developing a keen eye for stakeholder management. The team members need to be on board, on target, and in sync. In our experience, this is the only way for the leader to keep a razor-sharp focus on the organization’s stakeholders. In this top-level arena, having an adequately trained and well-prepared team is not enough: excellence is the new baseline.
“My current role was tough at the beginning, it became tougher as we proceeded. Nothing like I imagined. If I didn’t have my coach for my onboarding, I don’t know whether I would still be here now. He gave me the comfort, the trust, and he showed me that my limitations were no limitations. I am proud that I have been able to overcome them.”
A horizontal move – forging new solutions
The second type of leadership onboarding happens when a seasoned executive moves to new a leadership role in a different context. In this case, the leader is moving on. And quite often, leaders will find that building on what they’ve learned also involves unlearning some past lessons and forging new solutions.
Here, too, it is paramount to assemble, align and energize the best team for the job—the leader and the team are the keys to each other’s success. However, in these cases, NGL’s coaches focus on different dynamics:
- Cultural alignment is key. During the onboarding, a new company culture will be born that resonates for both the leader and the organization. But it is, crucially, the leader’s responsibility to make sure that he/she adapts to the new context and that the organization adapts to the new leadership. If this alignment fails, the rest is academic: culture eats strategy for lunch.
- Alignment of expectations is another must-have. All too often, it is not made explicit or clear what the “real” expectations are. This applies to the leader and their new organization, but also to stakeholders like shareholders, clients, and suppliers.
- Delivery planning is also essential. In today’s business world, there is no grace period for new leadership; you simply don’t have the luxury of taking time to figure things out. Tangible results are expected within two or three months, which requires clear definitions of quick wins as well as the priorities in the short, middle, and long term.
The coaches at NGL are all former executives, dedicated to enabling individuals, teams and organizations to thrive. We recognize that each onboarding is unique, which is why we make a thorough and in-depth assessment of each case, followed by an intensive collaboration that is guaranteed to deliver result.