Leadership Transition for New Managers and Team Leaders

Written by Jaren Chan for The Straits Times

Time is your most constrained resource when you are making a leadership transition as you have to plan and deliver results in a relatively short period of time. There is no honeymoon period. Expectations from all your stakeholders are high and are probably multifaceted as well. To execute well, you need to think in terms of the 5Rs – a systematic approach for leadership transition.

1. Role

Once you are aware of the transition that you will be making, you need to set aside quality time to do research on your new role. You need to understand the big picture and see how your role connects to the strategic objectives of your organization. Depending on the nature of your transition, you probably have to learn something about the organization or update yourself on the industry – what are macro issues and challenges, what are the key success factors and the broad trends going forward and how these would impact your role and your company. Talk to people and use the Internet as your knowledge resource.

2. Reality

You have to understand the situation that you will face when you take on the new leadership role. You need to have some insights about the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats as they relate to your business unit. Identify the problems that need resolution and prioritize accordingly. Then you can make the decisions on revamping, redirecting and reinforcing the relevant aspects of your business unit. Get the big picture. Keep an open and objective mind and focus on getting the information you need to make the right decisions. Talk to all your stakeholders and get as many perspectives as possible. Seek advice where necessary. Get on an accelerated learning curve.

3. Results

The first priority is to align expectations with your boss and you have to be proactive in reaching out to him and other key stakeholders. You need to know your boss’ major goals and objectives and his key priorities. With that, you can shape your vision and strategies accordingly. What are your top 3 priorities? Strive for some quick-wins in the first couple of months to position yourself as an achiever and to gain credibility with your boss and your team. It is also a good confidence booster for you. Remember you are in change management.

4. Resources

As part of your dialogue with your boss, you need to request and negotiate for resources – the logistics, people and budget that will support the successful execution of your plans. Critical logistical resources have to be identified, resourced and secured in a timely manner. In all likelihood, you will need some additional skills and competencies to get the job done. To do this, you may have to recruit outside talent or make internal transfers to your team. Do not forget that the most important resource is you – you have to be mentally and physically fit to handle the demands of your leadership transition. Eat well, sleep well and exercise well. Keep a work-life balance. Your family and friends are your best support system at this time.

5. Relationships

Build your support network quickly, seek alliances and identify coaches on your team who can guide you to move things along. Get up to speed with the communication processes in the organization and leverage them for maximum effect. Every organization has their ways of getting information around – both the formal and informal channels. Use the information channels to build relationships and build your profile.

Remember that some of your stakeholders want you to succeed and they are the ideal candidates to be your trusted advisors. Reach out to your direct reports and ask them for their take on the current situation and sincerely solicit their advice and ideas. Know who support you, who are not aligned and who needs to be persuaded. In short, know the politics and navigate it with finesse.



How a great leader inspires – watch this engaging video below:

Famous quotes of Lee Kuan Yew and selected Singapore leaders:

” Rest on laurels?  I wish I could do that.  No, you rest when you are dead.”Lee Kuan Yew

Ministers are not all paid the same because their contributions are not the same. I see it like this: The PM is the CEO of a team and he’s got to make that team work. And the team costs less than 0.02% of GDP or less than what Mindef has to pay for one F15 fighter aircraft”Lee Kuan Yew

” A leader can be made provided he is born.”Lee Kuan Yew

I tell people frankly God has made you that way. I’m not God. I cannot remake you. I can give you extra tuition, better environment, but the incremental benefits are not that much. And their peers with bigger engines will also make progress. So the gap will never be closed.”Lee Kuan Yew

” So there are alpha males and there are omega males.. but if you are omega, then all the training will not make you a platoon commander.”
Lee Kuan Yew

“Of all my Cabinet colleagues, it was Goh Keng Swee who made the greatest difference to the outcome for Singapore…When he held a contrary view, he would challenge my decisions and make me re-examine the premises on which they were made. As a result, we reached better decisions for Singapore.” – Lee Kuan Yew

“I used to play golf, but found it did not give me vitality because it’s a slothful game… Nine holes of golf will take you one and a half, two hours. I run in 20 minutes, I feel better off. So the cost benefit made me drop golf. ” – Lee Kuan Yew

“If all the 300 (top civil servants and political elite) were to crash in one jumbo jet, then Singapore will disintegrate.”Lee Kuan Yew on the Old Guard ministers and top civil servants

Between being loved and being feared, I have always believed Machiavelli was right. If nobody is afraid of me, I’m meaningless.” – Lee Kuan Yew

I have never been over-concerned or obsessed with opinion polls or popularity polls. I think a leader who is, is a weak leader. If you are concerned with whether your rating will go up or down, then you are not a leader. You are just catching the wind…you will go where the wind is blowing.
Lee Kuan Yew

Friendship, in international relations, is not a function of goodwill or personal affection. We must make ourselves relevant so that other countries have an interest in our continued survival and prosperity as a sovereign and independent nation.”Lee Kuan Yew

We have to live with the world as it is, not as we wish it should be. We must remain nimble to seize opportunities that come with changing circumstances.” – Lee Kuan Yew

Change is the very essence of life. The moment we cease to change, to be able to adapt, to adjust, to respond effectively to new situations, then we have begun to die.” – Lee Kuan Yew

” A military presence does not need to be used to be useful.”-  Lee Kuan Yew

Do not judge a man until you’ve closed his coffin.” – Lee Kuan Yew

To run a country, you need to have a feel for the people.” – Lee Kuan Yew

I think the deepest compliment we could pay ourselves is to remember that there must come a time when the torch must be passed on. And there is no greater compliment that a man can pay to himself and to his group than to pass the torch on to like-minded people, fired by the same ideals, but younger, more vigorous, more capable to meet a more contemporary situation. I would like to believe that, as with me, so with you; as you pass the torch on to the next generation, you pass it on not only to capable hands but to good minds and good hearts.” – Lee Kuan Yew , 1967

It is better to have stallions, which we occasionally have to pull back, than to have donkeys you have to kick to move.” –  Goh Keng Swee

” The only way to avoid making mistakes is not to do anything. And that, in the final analysis, will be the ultimate mistake.”Goh Keng Swee

Politics is incessant and the pressure is continuous. Politics being a service industry, the customer is always right.” – George Yeo

” Newspapers are like politicians. They try to influence public opinion… we can’t allow two forces to contend for public opinion.” –  Goh Chok Tong

Every organisation requires a different leadership style. A good leader is not one who has a particular style – though we all have our own idiosyncrasies – but one who can bring out the best from his team by adapting his leadership style.” – Chan Chun Sing



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Some quotes to inspire our website visitors:

Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.”Albert Einstein

Wisdom comes not from age, but from education and learning.” – Anton Chekhov

For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.” – Aristotle

I am always doing that which I cannot do in order that I may learn how to do it.” – Pablo Picasso

Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” J F Kennedy

Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin

Learning never exhausts the mind.” – Leonardo da Vinci

Jaren Chan Singapore Top Corporate Trainer

                           Jaren Chan, international leadership consultant and strategist