When Assimilation Goes Well | 120 Seconds to Better Leadership

I saw something today that I have not seen in the past in my practice and I think there’s some good learning in it, so I wanted to share it with all of you.  

What is Executive Assimilation?

Most of you know I do quite a bit of executive assimilation and a piece of what we do for executives when they’re new to role is a new leader assimilation. Which most of you probably know what that is, but if you don’t, essentially, it’s a half-day session with a new leader and their team, just to see how things are going, make sure that if there are any issues, we those solved quickly so as not to let them fester.  

As part of that we do an upfront survey, just to get our finger on the pulse of how the team’s feeling, what their concerns are, so that we can really shape that half-day session. And most of the time there are some, you know, this is going well, this is not going well, some middle-of-the-road reviews. Sometimes they’re scathing unfortunately.

Take the Time to Learn Upfront

Today was the first one that I saw where they had absolutely no criticism whatsoever of their leader. And when he and I were debriefing his deck, and he’s been in-role for just over three months, now, and he was describing how he was going about learning the team, etc. I would describe his style as Socratic, which is not his nature. He’s a pusher, he’s a driver, he came at a very high price tag for this organization, he has an incredible amount of experience, and the things that he’s working on I think he thinks are rudimentary. But he’s taken that first three months to ask questions and learn and build rapport and trust, so that now, as he’s implementing changes, he’s not getting a lot of resistance because he spent so much time upfront learning and building those relationships.

So, he probably is the purest example of what I often recommend as a strategy which is to take time, learn upfront, and then push for change later. That’s the key to new leader assimilation. And it’s working really well.