Being a leader in a new context presents its own unique challenges and because of this, being successful requires a unique set of skills and approaches. This leadership series will be particularly helpful to those looking for new leadership opportunities or those recently in post in a leadership capacity. This is the first in the series.

Ask questions

In just a matter of days after starting, and maybe even before you have arrived, you may have heard a lot of information about current employees, the state of the organisation and other matters. Although this could be valuable intel, you will have to draw your own conclusions. One of the most effective ways to really understand your new context is to ask questions. This will involve spending quality time with people and actively listening to their responses as well as posing follow up questions to gain a deeper understanding. You need to be able to ask questions at every level of the organisation: those working under you, those in your direct team as well as those above you. This will give you a vantage point of all levels of the organisation.

This might sound basic but pose questions using a range of probing stems such as:

  • Why are things done in this way?
  • Who benefits from this process?
  • How could it be improved?
  • What outcome am I / they expecting?
  • Use instructive verbs in your questions such as: define, explain, describe. You’ll prompt more detail and richness in responses.

If you’re a new leader or have been in post for some time but can recall when you first started in a new leadership position, I’m keen to hear what advice you’d give to others. Please feel free to comment and get in touch: darren at keystolearn dot org