On most Fridays, I answer management questions submitted through the "Ask Lisa"?? link found on my blog and on my website. If you would like to submit a management question for future Friday posts, click here.
QUESTION: What’s the best way to keep the middle team together when the top is in transition? How do you keep people who are inspired by a leadership personality energized and enthusiastic when that personality moves on to new endeavors? In other words, is the ‘house that Jack built’ in danger when Jack moves out of the neighborhood?
ANSWER: Your question had me think back to past management teams of my own. I can recall one or two "dream teams"?? where the players and the work came together really well and in a way that was fun, creative, and collaborative. Changes in key players modified the look and feel of the team. I felt a sense of loss, was a bit angry, and worried a bit. Is this what you are feeling?
By the way, most dream teams stay together for only a year or two – success brings opportunity, opportunity brings change. It is inevitable that Jack (or other team members) move on.
It is painful when Jack moves out of the "house that Jack built." Will it ever be the same? No. But here is how to make the most of the situation:
1. Maintain your fond memories of Jack, but don´t fall into the trap of idealizing the past. Ask yourself, "Now that Jack is gone, what opportunities do we have?"?? Share your ideas for how the function can be successful in the future including thoughts about the organization, roles, initiatives, and projects. Make Jack proud by being instrumental in moving the function to the next level.
2. You and your peers need to take a service oriented leadership stance. What´s this? It is important to be proactive and take collective ownership for the continued success of the team. One can lead in a way that is inclusive and collaborative, and this is what you will want to do. Be cognizant of any natural inclination you might have to become overbearing and controlling – this would not be good.
3. Are you worried about who will be the new Jack? It´s only natural to fret over who´s next and wonder whether your new boss will be a bozo. All you can do is get involved, share your ideas and concerns, and hope to participate in the selection process. While managers have a significant impact on our work, we should not let him/her define our experience.
Your time is precious, please don´t waste it worrying. You´ll do what you can do and it will be what it will be. Give the senior leaders some credit. They want to hire an awesome person and don"t want the team to skip a beat.
4. Temporary systems rule! Until things get settled, you and your peers will need to establish how you want to run the function. Spread the responsibilities as appropriate. This is a time to be creative and open to new ideas – you never now what might happen!