Stay or Jump? The New Boss


My Boss My HeroThe all-day meeting with the exec staff ended up focused on one point:

“What should we tell the new CEO?

Hunch is everyone wants to do well with the new boss.

While there is the occasional new CEO that parachutes in, the rumor mill or extensive interview vetting usually gives you an idea who the new gal/guy might be.

If you think about the recent CEO hire of Satya Nadella at Microsoft as one example, lead candidates names were bandied around for months. Symantec’s CEO Steve Bennett [Disclosure: Symantec is a client] was named CEO from his role as Board Chairman. Bennett was subsequently fired and an interim CEO – also from the board – is now in place. Apple’s new retail CEO, Angela Ahrendts, was hired after an extensive search; her start date with Apple was months though after the announcement.

In all cases people had a chance to either see the new boss first hand (Nadella), periodically (Bennet), or lots of time to do their homework (Ahrendts).

Here’s three things to do if you’ve got a new boss:

  1. What’s their background? Where did they work and what sort of trail did they leave? While everyone in interviews talks about hypothetically what they would do in a new role, there is far better insight to be gleaned from how they’ve led rather than what they’ve said.
  2. Do you know people who have worked with the new gal? Even if you don’t, LinkedIn makes it pretty easy to get a warm introduction to someone who did. The question to ask? What were the characteristics of people did well with the new guy and what were the people struggled like?
  3. Changes at the top frequently mean changes down below. Sometimes those changes are terrific opportunities, sometimes it’s route to the door. What’s your Plan B if your job starts looking not-so-good as the new CEO puts their mark on the place? Have you kept your network well-nourished and flourishing or will be you doing a start from scratch and prayer approach?

From your research you may find out that you lead in a manner that’s right in a favored sweet spot for the new guy or alternately, you’re going to need to change your modus operandi fast or get packing.

What if the chemistry is just not there? Fortune has 10 helpful suggestions if your boss doesn’t like you.

If you do your homework you might figure though how to significantly improve your chances of doing well with the new boss.

Life Back West is an occasional set of writings focused on ways people, teams and organizations can be both more effective (doing the right thing) and more efficient (doing the right thing well). More about executive, career and team / leadership coaching services can be found at the “About J. Mike Smith and Back West, Inc.” sidebar or the “Hire Me” tab. You can also read an online interview with me at WhoHub.

My Boss My Hero (Photo credit: Wikipedia)