What Did You Pack?

John Whitaker Change Management, Leadership, Onboarding

I’m still assimilating into my new role with my new company, in a new industry complete with its own lexicon, library of acronyms and secret handshakes and I am reminding myself constantly “none of that matters.”

It’s a natural reaction to slow-play your integration into a new role. No one likes the guy/girl who comes in with guns blazing, a-whompin’ and a-whumpin’ every living thing before they know the company dynamics. So how long do you wait before you engage? Six months? A year? A week?

If you are MY investment, that’s not the plan. I want you in the mix on Day One. How, exactly do you do that? You unpack your suitcase.

We all carry a quiver of skills with us to any role we assume. That’s why you see people with absolutely no specific experience in a job actually assume leadership of others in the role.  You see it in professional sports all the time; think Erik Spoelstra, who progressed from intern to head coach (Miami Heat) and never played a lick of pro basketball. While some skills are applicable in a specific manner based on your employer, the reason you were (*theory alert, I can’t prove this) hired has less to do with your CV and more to do with your “you-ness.” (Hehe, I just said it out loud and realized I’m saying “Eunice.”)

The inherent traits that make you who you are – those skills travel with you everywhere. One of the exercises I use when coaching managers is to have them write down single words to describe the best boss they ever had, put them on a sticky note and place it in one of three categories: technical expertise, industry experience, or “other.” I didn’t invent this exercise, btw, it’s an old HBR drill to prove a point – by and large, the best (or worst) bosses/leaders/managers are those who have the soft skills inherent in them: empathy, trustworthiness, good listeners, good communicators, motivating, energetic, optimistic, and so on. Try it with your team – it’s not even close. It doesn’t matter where you work or what the role is, these skills travel well.

Remember that as you start a new adventure, stretch assignment, or have a battle with Imposter Syndrome. Your suitcase is full, you just need to remember to open it.

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