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How to make the most of your career when a new executive lands.


Jun. 16, 2021, at 01:22 PM


When a new Leader lands (often referred to as a new broom) it often sets off some ‘interesting’ behaviours amongst their direct reports and the broader rank and file to say the least.

Some people will be nervous and show it, others will be supremely confident and feel indispensable and will also show it. Once an announcement is made, there will be a flurry of activity as staff members and reports rush to google and linkedin to find out more about them. Others will speak to counterparties, clients or anyone in their network who may have previously worked with or for that person. Everyone is second guessing what the new leader is like and what this means for them. For some it can be all consuming and it can also be difficult to predict. 

In some respects, people are right to be concerned as there is often structural change at the level below the incoming executive within 6-12 months, but all of this depends of course on what you think about change. I can personally relate to all of the above personas at one point in my career (as I probably adopted one or other of them myself), but it’s really hard to predict exactly which way up you’ll land as so much is out of your control. However, the ones who typically thrive and don’t just survive are those that lean into the change. They take it in their stride and see it for what it is - just part of the usual circle of life found in any mature organisation.

Whatever your level of seniority is, a change in the executive team can have at least an indirect impact on your career. Perhaps the new leader is known for investing in Technology platforms or Digital, or has a track record of buying other companies, divesting underperforming businesses or cost cutting. Perhaps they have a track record of delivering a more inclusive or employee centric workplace. Depending what part of the firm you work in – evidence of any of the above could be a huge clue as to what may be coming down the pipe.

Assuming you are the type of person that stays abreast of new developments and best practice in your area of specialism, and/or has a number of plans and ideas that could be quickly deployed or implemented under the right conditions, then the time between the announcement of a new executive’s imminent arrival and their first 6 months could be an ideal time to step in and offer up solutions early in the new leader’s transition. Be sure to stay tuned into what your Boss or their Boss is saying about any changes in thinking coming from the top. It may be too early for them to share anything concrete, but they should at least be able to share some of the new executive’s early observations. Failing that most new executives will even share some of those directly with employees in the first 90 days via email, intranet or a Townhall meeting.

In the best case scenario a new Leader and a new strategy may play straight into your hands as you find that the project you have put on hold for over a year for lack of funding is suddenly back on the table given its alignment with a change in direction and emphasis at the top. Alternatively, perhaps nothing in your area of responsibility or interest seems to align with the new leaders' strategy , in which case, you could just be looking at a whole lot of change with no immediate upside for your career. However, don’t take that lying down. This could be an opportune time to think about a change in role or function to something that aligns more closely with the new strategy. Alternatively, it may give you an opportunity to deploy some of your transferable skills to a strategic project outside of your current area of expertise or finally apply for that course or training you had long been putting off.

Timing is everything and if you don’t ask you don’t get. Lean into the change and see where it takes you.

Photo : Creator: stevanovicigor | Credit: Depositphotos

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