Bossing It - How to Make a Good Impression in your First Week

For all leaders stepping into a new role or into their boss’ shoes, whether for a week when they are on holiday or for the next 20 years, making the right impression is crucial. People will be watching closely, ready to pass judgement, looking out for signs of long-term success or failure.

Whether you try to make a big impact or just aim for ‘steady as she goes’ will depend on your personal leadership ambitions. In my experience of working with leaders across a variety of sectors and organisational sizes, I consistently find that leaders who make a rapid and effective impact in their role and set the course ahead for smoother waters concentrate on getting two factors right: creating clarity and setting standards. As a result, both their team collectively and the individuals within it know where the organisation is going, what they are expected to contribute and why, and to what level.

Even in adverse and unpleasant working conditions, research suggests that teams with high levels of clarity and standards are more effective and productive than those without. Leaders faced with a new team often make the mistake of trying to focus on creating team harmony as their first task, but the result will be just that – a harmonious, but not necessarily productive, team.

Leaders should prioritise getting to know their team so that they can understand which leadership styles they need to draw upon to create an environment that brings out the best in their people and achieves their company’s vision. For example, a directive leadership style – ‘directives, not directions’ – has proven to be effective in times of crisis, but if the style continues during convalescence, employees may begin to look to competitors for a different style of leadership.