If you want to be sure about anything, be sure about change. People change. Organizations change. Leadership changes.
Change can be uncomfortable, and that discomfort is multiplied when a leadership change is involved. People get comfortable with their leader, so when that position changes it can leave people feeling raw.
So how should you deal with leadership changes? Here are three ways:
1. Give your people time to mourn
This sounds extreme, but it’s true. People need time to mourn the loss of a relationship. Don’t rush this step and have empathy. Some people will take it harder than others, but be sure to leave time for people to process at their own speed.
2. Listen to your people
Before moving on and replacing the leader, make sure you take time to listen to your people. Figure out what the previous leader did well or where they fell short. This time will help you determine the kind of leader you need moving forward. Don’t let anyone skip this step. You need to be available to those who are ready and willing to talk as well as for those who don’t think they need to talk.
Use this time to listen to the fears and uncertainties of the people. If possible, reassure them through the leadership change.
3. Replace the leader wisely
You may be tempted to rush a decision to fill the vacancy. I want to encourage you to slow down. First of all, you want to make sure that you give the people who followed the previous leader a chance to interview for the leadership role. While hiring from the outside isn’t necessarily a bad idea, your internal talent may be more equipped to fill the role of the previous leader. This is especially true if the previous leader was excellent.
If you must hire externally, make sure that those who will fall under the new leader are involved in the decision to a certain extent.
As a bonus, a leadership change is a great time to work on your emotional intelligence. If you haven’t taken the Emotional Intelligence (paid link) assessment, this is the time for you to figure out your blind spots. In order to successfully navigate a change like this, you need to be aware of how people are perceiving you.
How do you deal with change? Do you tend to rush into replacements? How are you with listening and emotional intelligence? Comment below and let’s discuss!
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