Some new leaders come in like a hurricane. They’re a storm that is strong enough to blow down anything and everything in their way.
A new leader knows he’s been hired to make change, and he wants to get busy. But in moving to make those changes fast, he destroys the relationships with the very people he needs to succeed. He hasn’t taken time to learn the ground truth, and he hasn’t walked a mile in his team’s shoes (even if he has walked many miles in shoes just like theirs before being hired into this role).
Trust is established over time, and formal authority is authority in it’s weakest and most easily resented form. Moral authority takes time to build, but it is one of the most powerful levers a leader can pull.
Some leaders come in like a lamb. They don’t want to make the mistake of going too fast and instead go to slow. This is particularly true when it comes to changing out members of the team they inherit. They’re right to go slow when it comes to people because they’re dealing with a person’s life. They’re also right to go slow because new leadership can and does make the difference, magically transforming a poor performer into what they could have been the whole time.
But you can move too slowly. You can keep people who aren’t willing to change too long, and you can leave them around long enough to put your new initiatives at risk.
It’s a tricky balance, but a good leader knows where and when to move fast and where to take more time.