Building relationship capital should be a top priority for senior leaders joining a new organization because they had left behind years of building alliances that contributed to their success. 

Imagine that is your case, and you are joining your dream organization full of great ideas and the right combination of experience and skills to bring up growth. Do you think you will get support from those who do not know you yet? One tool that can help you differentiate the non-Sayers from the maybes to the yeses is the Net Promoter Score (NPS).  

According to the NPS, there are three categories of stakeholders. I will explain them in the context of being ‘the new leader in the house.’

Promoters: They are excited about joining the firm and are willing to support your leadership and even onboard you, mentor you or sponsor you for success. 

Passives: They are somewhat enthusiastic about you coming on board but could easily swing to detractors and might not promote your leadership. 

Detractors: They are unhappy stakeholders who are not thrilled about you joining the firm. They might have been succession candidates who passed over the promotion they had been seeking for years.  

The issue is that detractors speak louder than promoters and might harm your ability to implement positive changes. 

Here are some suggestions to help you convert detractors into supporters. 

  1. Be curious. Approach those detractors and be willing to listen and understand their concerns. They usually care a lot about the firm and can influence it throughout their already formed coalitions. 
  2. Take Care of the Team. Take quality time to get to know your direct reports. Assess their capabilities and learn about their career potential and aspirations. Gaining their trust will enable you to get them to promote your leadership. 
  3. Cover the Basis. Become well-informed regarding crucial operational issues and be agile by providing solutions to urgent problems. Securing early wins will build your credibility. 
  4. Align with Key Stakeholders. It would be best if you had the support of those who hold the final decision-making power over the strategic direction of the business. Building coalitions with those over whom you have no direct authority is crucial for your success. 
  5. Consider Your Learning Curve. An article published in Harvard Business Review suggests that to succeed, new leaders need help in integrating into the culture before they start implementing more complex change. 
  6. Manage Risk. Vet the strategy to ensure you feel strongly about it. Any successful change starts with you and having conviction and confidence in that strategy. 
  7. Manage Criticism. Don’t take it personally. Instead, make sure you are doing the right thing, even if others don’t like your ideas. Making sure everybody is happy will take you nowhere. 

The bottom line is to be savvy about managing detractors. If you can turn them into promoters, you will have a smoother ride, even when it is not realistic that everybody will support you. 

An integral part of an onboarding plan should be a well-thought influencing strategy to create alliances that will support your leadership. Otherwise, you will face mostly skepticism, fear, and conflict. When you are the new leader in the house, building your relationship capital is essential for your success. 

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