The Excitement Pitfall

You know when you start something brand new, or take on a new role and there is that initial excitement and enthusiasm? You’ve got big plans and can’t wait to get started! 

I know exactly how this feels. That being said, going in too hard and too fast might just be the worst thing you can do. That’s what we’re exploring in this week’s SWAGGER Sense

I was so fortunate to learn this lesson very early in my career. I was invited to a sales conference and a young business development coordinator. 

My boss at the time said this to me. “Go and listen. Don’t speak. You haven’t yet earned the right to contribute.” 

While this might seem a bit harsh, it was truly sage advice. 

You see, when we are brand new to a role or just coming into a new group, team, or company, we can’t let our excitement get the better of us. We simply don’t know what we don’t know. 

We have no idea what is working, how things are managed, what needs adjusting, or even how we best fit in. 

I’ve seen this pitfall happen to so many leaders. They become the leader of a department, team, or organization and have these big plans they want to implement right away!

They feel the need to make a huge impact, to demonstrate their value to everyone with their bright ideas. 

The problem is that going down this path often leads to resentment from those they are now leading. They have less than willing followers and their plans don’t succeed. 

It reminds me of Ken Blanchard’s work on situational leadership. In it, he focuses on the idea that leadership is specific to the individual and the task. 

The less a person knows about a certain project, task, or role, the more direction they need. Once they develop and learn over time, the less support and direction they need. 

When we are brand new to something we are what I like to call the Eager Learner. We are full of excitement and energy, but quite simply lacking in the knowledge and skills needed to execute effectively. 

Note the word learner in my label. The single best thing we can do when we are new to a role, project, or team, is to ask questions. This is a time for gathering information, listening, and learning. 

Taking the time to ask the people who have been there longer than you shows that you value their expertise. You are interested in learning what they have to offer and what they know. 

Doing so enables you to avoid coming across as a “know-it-all” and enforcing your plans on something you know nothing about, yet. 

This is a step in the right direction of creating willing followership. Don’t scrap your plans altogether, just keep them to yourself until you have learned more. Also, you might want to think about asking those “in-the-know” what changes or improvements they think need to be made. 

People are always more willing to follow through and execute on something they had a say in creating instead of being dictated to. 

By the way, this concept doesn’t just apply to the workplace. It can be a valuable approach to use in many areas of our lives. Kids anyone??? 

Give this a go. At the beginning, listen more than you talk. Don’t assume. Ask. 

Do write to me and share your stories of success. I want to celebrate you!