Are you ready for me to riff a little? If so, hang on… This one is a little more personal for me as I too, have experienced transition recently. But, too be honest, I am so happy now and am excited to be working with new people and sharing my experiences with all.

Leadership transition is always interesting.

If you look closely, you can tell who has confidence and who doesn’t by the way they conduct themselves from the start. Be careful, while some may project confidence, many don’t back it up with by the way they treat the previous leadership.

While, there will always be differences and disagreements with previous leaders of any organization, thus attaching the word, “previous” to their tenure, at some point, the new leader must own it.

I have never been a fan of seeking trust, loyalty, and support of employees by constantly talking smack about the previous regime, or whichever word one chooses to speak of them with. All of which seems like a lame attempt to puff your own self up.

To me, it seems a better way to gain such support would be to rise above the name-calling and finger-pointing by offering vision, clarity, and leadership.

A little humility here can and will go a long way towards gaining followers. Beating one’s chest as if to say…here I am, will quickly take you to a place of “feaux followers” and not real followers.

As I have said before…

Without vision, you perish

Without clarity, there is anxiety

Without leadership, there is chaos

With talking smack about the previous leaders, there is gossip, division, and muddy waters.

At some point, you need to own it. And when I say “it”… I mean your role and responsibility.

Also, don’t ever underestimate the fact that your employees know more than you think they know. To mis-underestimate this out of the box, could prove lethal with regards to morale, productivity, and loyalty. Therefore, you face the chance of losing a lot of good hard working people as you focus your time getting rid of them only because of their relationship with the previous leadership only to build “your” team. That’s why a good and humble transition should never be downplayed. Plus, if you were a good and mature leader with a decent self esteem, one would at least respect some of the people already in place.

In this, what do you think the difference is between Feaux Followers and Real Followers?

Again, be careful, feaux followers are not always about them, but often times are about you, the leader, or the perception one has of you or the corporate office. In this, just getting rid of feaux followers isn’t always the answer. Sometimes, a little humility, self audit, ability to listen, and change from your part can go a long way towards turning feaux followers into real followers.

My experience with recent transition…

With an amazing team around me, in two years, we turned a company around from a loss of 7 digits to a profit of 6 digits. In the midst of this, we essentially had to build our new amazing team. In this, I was grateful of the foundation that was laid down by the previous leaders before I took over. In the 4 years since that, we battled being a part of a large corporation which allowed for funds to move around and support the less profitable companies. This essentially, caused our hands to be tied.

Why, after turning a company around so successfully in such a short time, were we then asked to take a back seat to the other companies, I will never know as we were the cash cow. And, to be asked to do better at the same time always seemed like being asked to make bricks without straw.

(But, I digress. I certainly don’t want to appear bitter, but to use my own personal experience to help make my point in this riff.)

This of course caused us, in the trenches, to lead a balancing act with our vendors, landlords, consumers, and employees all seeking to continue to keep a honest relationship with each of them in the name of seeking to maintain a respectable reputation in tact.

But, as this caught up with the corporate leadership team, an immediate downsize occurred that affected us all. Soon, many of us were gone. And, now, with new leadership in place, for whatever reason, they feel the need to talk poorly about the team we developed and all that we did “wrong” in comparison to how they would have done it in accordance to their limited perspective.

My response to this is… too bad.

Too bad, because they are more than capable of pulling this company through on their own merits. In this, there is no reason for their actions. Often times, actions like this will catch up with them. No body likes excuses. They like ownership and taking responsibility.

Did we do everything right? No. But, what we did do considering what we were dealt was pretty remarkable. I am willing to own up to the many mistakes I made, absolutely. Just as much as I am willing to own up to the many good things I accomplished. I mean, we all make mistakes, right? But, sometimes, what you are dealt is entirely out of your hands.

So, you do the best of what you have to work with, be grateful, be honest, be clear, be transparent, be encouraging, don’t kick the janitor or your supervisors, and honor your employees and your God with how you do it.

I guess I could wrap up this riff with a couple thoughts to ponder…

You reap what you sow so stop sowing division and smack…. because you will soon reap it.

What are you sowing in thought, word, and deed into your people?

Treat others as you would want them to treat you. Isn’t that the golden rule?

If you don’t own these things, then you will find yourself soon… not owning anything.

Own your responsibilities…

Because, sooner or later people will see through your words as just that… words.

Do you own it? If so… hang on to it. If you don’t… stop acting like you do.

See also my previous blog on the difference between bosses and leaders.