SMITH BRAIN TRUST — Words of wisdom for new managers: First win over your team, then roll out your changes. But do it all with a keen understanding of the leader who came before you. You’ll be a lot more successful. These are the conclusions of new research from M. Susan Taylor at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business and three co-authors that examined leadership transitions of midlevel managers and how teams responded to them.
The researchers find that a new leader’s ability to push through changes in an organization depends on how the former leader was viewed by their team and how the new leader uses that information to rally support from the team. A new manager replacing an unpopular manager doesn’t have as far of a hill to climb to gain the team’s support as a one replacing a manager who will be sorely missed.
The key for both managers and team members, Taylor says, is being proactive. “A person coming in with an agenda needs to be thinking ‘how can I get in amongst my team?’” Likewise, she says, team members need to make sure their voices are heard by proactively communicating with the new manager.
The researchers’ advice for organizations is to select new manages who are more proactive and change-oriented than a former leader to result in an effective leadership transition, with minimal disruption, to help the new leader achieve his or her change agenda.
Read more: Does Proactive Personality Matter in Leadership Transitions? Effects of Proactive Personality on New Leader Identification and Responses to New Leaders and Their Change Agenda is forthcoming in the Academy of Management Journal.
Susan Taylor is Smith Chair of Human Resource Management & Organizational Change and co-director of the Center for Leadership, Innovation and Technology.
Research interests: Episodic and continuous organizational change; the effects of proactive personality on organizational change, leadership transitions and proactive personality; the changing nature of leadership; and picking up the pieces of the employee and organizational relationships.
Selected accomplishments: Fellow of National Academy of Management and the Society of Industrial/Organizational Psychology; recipient of research grants from the National Science Foundation and the Kaufman Foundation.
About this series: The Smith School faculty is celebrating Women’s History Month 2017 in partnership with ADVANCE, an initiative to transform the University of Maryland by investing in a culture of inclusive excellence. Daily faculty spotlights support activities from the school’s Office of Diversity Initiatives, culminating with the sixth annual Women Leading Women forum on March 30, 2017.
Other fearless ideas from: Rajshree Agarwal | Ritu Agarwal | Leigh Anenson | Kathryn M. Bartol | Christine Beckman | Margrét Bjarnadóttir | M. Cecilia Bustamante | Rellie Derfler-Rozin | Waverly Ding | Wedad J. Elmaghraby | Rosellina Ferraro | Rebecca Hann | Amna Kirmani | Hanna Lee | Hui Liao | Wendy W. Moe | Courtney Paulson | Louiqa Raschid | Rebecca Ratner | Rachelle Sampson | Debra L. Shapiro | Cynthia Kay Stevens | M. Susan Taylor | Vijaya Venkataramani | Janet Wagner | Yajin Wang | Yajun Wang | Liu Yang | Jie Zhang | Lingling Zhang | PhD Candidates
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