Doce Tomic, president and CEO, Credential Financial, Vancouver.
At a recent conference, I was asked, "As a new leader, how do you gain the respect and trust of your new team?"
This prompted a flashback to early on in my career, when I was given the opportunity to lead a team of senior investment advisers. I was easily the youngest member of the team, and earning the respect and trust of these older and more experienced veterans – who now reported to me – felt like a daunting challenge.
Despite my trepidation, I was able to eventually win over most of the team – even those who seemed set in their ways. Consider using the following strategies when embarking on your leadership journey.
Make your intentions clear from day one
As a new leader, especially a younger one, you face a harsh reality when you step into the role: heightened scrutiny and judgment of your every move. For instance, prepare to be judged by your age and have to battle the stereotypical perceptions that go hand in hand with being younger. An example is the perceived inability to fulfill the leadership role based on your lack of experience or expertise.
Counter these false judgments by staying laser-focused on the strategy you choose to adopt and quickly sharing that strategy with your team. Make your purpose clear from the outset, describe your vision and create a road map of the team goals you plan to accomplish. Also, be honest about the challenges and roadblocks you face as a team (being careful to speak broadly and not single out individuals). Garnering positive first impressions from your team is a crucial step toward building foundational trust and respect.
Identify your allies
Most people feel anxious when reporting to a new boss. No matter how plainly and eloquently you outline your strategy, don't expect immediate buy-in from everyone. I started by working with team members who seemed open to new ideas and strategies, and who showed interest in being future leaders themselves. I knew that those yearning to learn and grow would ultimately contribute most to the team's overall success.
Set them up for success
Once I had identified those who were onside with my vision, I set about sharing the framework that had brought me success, breaking it down for them step by step. What occurred next surprised me. Not only did they quickly adopt the framework, they also brought fresh insights and perspectives that enhanced and refined the process. By openly sharing my own recipe for success, instead of guarding it, we wound up with new ideas and approaches that helped the team flourish even faster.
Communicate the results
Once the framework was laid out and the flywheel was in motion, I turned my attention to maintaining consistency of work. Then, when the positive results began to roll in, I made a point of reporting them out to the team. And while the numbers spoke for themselves, I also described in detail the activities that led to those results. This ensured we were all on the same page about the types of activities that would reap the most rewards.
Over time, even the more experienced advisers – the same ones who had doubted me initially – began coming to me for assistance. I had proven myself to them, having fully gained their trust and respect.
I've always been fascinated by the various approaches individuals take when they step into a new leadership role. There are many leadership styles, and even more experts claiming they know the right one for you. While I've shared what worked for me in the world of finance, any new leader, regardless of your field, can start with these core tenets: state your intentions, embody your values, demonstrate your work ethic and – when the time comes – share your team's positive results and the actions that made them possible.
Executives, educators and human resources experts contribute to the ongoing Leadership Lab series.