New Boss, New Opportunity

When a new boss comes on board you need to get with his/her vision as soon as possible. The birth of a new way of doing things often produces upheaval in our world.

  • Current initiatives driven by you and your team may suddenly become a low priority for this new leader.
  • Senior leaders who know your work and had your back may be displaced and reassigned.
  • You may report to a series of new bosses until things settle down.
  • Rumors of a major reorganization leave everyone jittery and feeling that there is a target on their back.
  • What are your options for continued usefulness in this new world?

Before you scamper to find the headhunter’s contact information here are some positive actions you can take.

Learn the leader’s vision for the organization

Each new leader brings to the table some new vision for the organization. It behooves you to get to know his/her strategic road-map as quickly as possible. New leaders show their hand in this regard in different ways. Some hold back until they get to know the new system. Others have an immediate mandate from the Board to implement change initiatives. It would also be helpful to find out why this leader was hired.

Align your skills and passions with that vision

Try and schedule a 1:1 meeting with the new boss and ask directly “What is your vision for our organization?” Remember this is an information-gathering meeting. You are sowing seeds not reaping a crop. During the same meeting, build on what he/she tells you by validating his/her ideas and expressing your own opinion about ways you can help his/her plan succeed.

Ask other senior leaders to lobby for you to be a significant part of the new strategy development

Having advocates cheerlead for you goes a long way towards getting on the new leader’s radar. Expand your network with these leaders and let them know what you are willing to do for them in return. Part of that lobbying effort may be to get you a seat at the table where pending changes are discussed and planned.

A leadership change at the top is no time to sit back passively and let the chips fall where they may. Nor should you just hope that your work speak for itself. You may well get lost in the shuffle. Nor is it time just for you to advance your own interests. Wherever possible, advocate for the value that your team will add.

Finally, speaking from my consulting experience, I have seen these three influencing principles work over and over again.


What are some of your best practices for maximizing your career when there has been a leadership change at the top?

About cedricj

I am a licensed psychologist and management consultant and have always been intrigued by how leaders can inspire people in their organizations. The bottom line is that people are not always motivated by material rewards, the use of the carrot or the stick, fear and intimidation,and command and control, Five human needs inspire and drive us. Kristine S MacKain, Ph.D and myself describe these inspirational forces in our book "What Inspirational Leaders Do" (Kindle 2008)
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2 Responses to New Boss, New Opportunity

  1. This really resonated for me Cedric. I well remember when I screwed this up years ago. Waited for the new boss to discover how brilliant I was, got disappointed that he didn’t seem to want to engage, and then was surprised when I got laid off.

    Looking back I should have been proactive and found out what his motivators were and how i could help him to look good. I think he may have seen me as a threat, and if I had not been so complacent and made more time with him we might have formed a good working relationship.

    Such good advice for all of us, Thank you.

    • cedricj says:

      Again, thanks for a very personal and insightful comment Michael. While proactively talking to the new boss is no guarantee of success in our future it keeps our mind clear of what we “think” is going on. It also minimizes the “threat” by him/her seeing us as being on board with the new vision.

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