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How to Fight the F.U.D. and Set Up Your New Team for Greatness

How to Fight the F.U.D. and Set Up Your New Team for Greatness

Being a great leader means surrounding yourself with great people, which means building a strong and efficient team. When stepping into leading a new team, you are the change - and with any change, the team is going to hold some Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (or F.U.D. for you acronym lovers!). These feelings aren’t because of you, but these feelings are about you. So, how do you fight the F.U.D.?

[Related: 4 Tips for Managers in a Hybrid World]

Here are two examples of fighting the F.U.D.

A client is stepping into a new role as Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). As anticipated, the team had F.U.D. about the changes this new leader was bringing to the team. It doesn’t matter whether these changes are good or bad, there is still anxiety about them. This anxiety is amplified by a remote work environment that limits informal interaction, where this new CMO could connect in more unstructured and “free environments.” As with most leadership transitions, there is a risk of a loss of buy-in from her team and the associated loss of productivity that comes with misunderstanding around mutual expectations.

Here are three actions she’s taking (and you can do) to reduce F.U.D.

1) Introduce yourself and your expectations.

Most people want to excel in their performance, so set them up for success by letting them know who you are and what they can expect. This introduction should provide insight into your leadership style, communication preferences, team expectations, and personal background.

[Related: A Corporate Man’s World Guide to Better Meetings]

2) Listen to the team.

Listening needs to be centered around actively hearing your new team’s very real thoughts and concerns so you can properly address them. This active listening should be accomplished through multiple tactics, including an anonymous open-ended survey, an introductory meeting with the team facilitated by a third-party, and individual listening sessions.

What’s worked well for the team in the past? What do individuals want to keep or change about their team dynamics? These listening sessions afford the team an opportunity to share what they need in a leader, their current working styles, current successes, and current challenges. You are building a culture of trust. You need to hold yourself accountable for this listening or the trust is broken.

3) Focus on learning and plan for quick wins.

The impulse to demonstrate your value as you onboard is tempting, but DON’T DO IT. You need time to listen and process all this new information. Hold back on any big decisions for the first 30 days. Instead, create a plan to accomplish a few meaningful quick wins at the 60-day mark.

But what happens when you find that some team members are struggling in their roles when you’re doing all this self-introduction, trust culture building, and processing? How do you get everyone performing on a team that deserves greatness?

A new owner and CEO of a tech-start-up is eight weeks into leading his new team, and quickly identified that a few leaders were struggling. He needed these C-suite executives to have C-suite skills, and doesn’t have the capacity to provide the learning and development support needed. Supporting the struggling members would not be the best use of the new CEO’s time, nor would it be well received directly coming from him so early in his tenure.

These leaders are likely coachable, yet you cannot position executive coaching as a punishment or a negative, rather offer as a learning opportunity. You are investing in your people. This is your “standard practice.”

This is a rare moment where being surgical isn't necessarily helpful, and blanket action has the most benefit. The ones already performing well will perform even better, while the underperforming members improve on the necessary skills. By utilizing this approach, you’re eliminating the F.U.D. and raising the entire team to their best abilities.

You are setting up a structure and framework for your team to thrive. How do you provide a position of buy-in and trust from your team where they know you are supporting them? New beginnings can be tenuous. However, clear communication of expectations, intentional listening, and demonstrated investment in the team’s collective success will take these new beginnings from good to great.

[Related: Leader Survival Kit: When the Path Forward is Not Clear]


Kathryn Landis the Founder and CEO of Kathryn Landis Consulting, a global executive and team coach firm dedicated to helping leaders take the next step towards greatness by empowering and inspiring their teams, becoming the best version of themselves in work and life, and making a positive impact. She also serves as a Professor of Leadership and Marketing at New York University and as a Board Member of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management Alumni Club of New York.

Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.