Laura Pavin, the host of Ask Insight! tapped into the leadership wisdom offered by Harry Kraemer, former chairman and CEO of Baxter International. They explored two crucial aspects of leadership:
- managing the transition from peer to manager, and
- addressing trust issues when an employee seems to betray your confidence.
Leading Former Peers: Navigating the Power Shift
Imagine being promoted to a managerial position over colleagues you once considered equals. How do you handle the shift in power without disrupting relationships? According to Kraemer, the key lies in setting clear expectations. He advises communicating the change in a friendly manner, stating,
"we can still be friends, but I just want to remind you, I do have to hold you accountable now."
By establishing expectations early on, leaders can maintain a balance between friendship and accountability.
Kraemer emphasizes the importance of self-reflection, urging leaders to consider if they need to distance themselves from the team. However, his preference is to maintain friendships and employ a clear communication strategy. He suggests a formula: set expectations, communicate them clearly, and hold individuals accountable. By doing so, leaders can navigate the shift in dynamics without sacrificing relationships.
The Listening Tour: Building Trust with a New Team
When assuming a leadership role, particularly with a new team, Kraemer advocates for a listening tour. Taking time to understand team dynamics, preferences, and concerns sets the stage for effective leadership. By actively seeking input and making decisions transparently, leaders foster trust and ensure their choices align with the team's expectations.
Kraemer advises leaders to communicate decisions clearly, especially if they differ from the team's recommendations. By addressing potential concerns proactively, leaders can prevent misunderstandings and build a foundation of trust.
Addressing Employee Trust Issues: Setting Expectations
The second part of their discussion focuses on addressing trust issues when an employee seems to take advantage of your trust. Kraemer's approach centers on setting expectations from the start. Instead of making assumptions, he encourages leaders to outline expectations clearly, covering areas such as respect, communication, and task completion.
In situations where trust may be eroding, Kraemer suggests giving individuals the benefit of the doubt initially. Leaders should assume misunderstandings before viewing actions as deliberate. However, he underscores the importance of holding individuals accountable after expectations have been communicated. If trust continues to be breached, it can lead to significant consequences.
Conclusion: Communication and Expectations as Cornerstones of Effective Leadership
In navigating leadership challenges, Harry Kraemer emphasizes the power of clear communication and setting expectations. Leaders should proactively address power shifts, build trust through active listening, and establish a framework for accountability. By incorporating these principles into their leadership approach, individuals can foster positive team dynamics and navigate challenges effectively.