Someone asked me recently what the best way to introduce a new sales leader to a team is, and it reminded me of an answer I posted on Quora a couple of years ago about introducing new leaders into a startup.
Sorry for the rhyme, but bringing any new leader into a startup environment is an inflection point that you can either nail or fail.
It’s both scary and exciting to fill your leadership team with new talent. Every growing startup will need new leaders at some point. With growth and scale comes the need to specialize, focus, and even uplevel.
It may be that you and/or your team has hit the upper limits of there experience, expertise, and ability. It may be that as you grow new specialization or skill is needed, or new gaps are discovered. It may, unfortunately, be that some existing leaders are going to roll off (voluntarily or otherwise) because they aren’t the right fit anymore.
Introducing new, key leaders to help take your company and your team to the next level is an important step in your startup journey.
So, what’s the best way to do it?
Call me cautious, but I think the best way to introduce any new leader into a high-growth startup is very carefully! Especially if it is a high-performing team who is currently getting good results. And even when everyone agrees the new leadership is needed.
Your startup culture is likely both strong and sensitive. Strong enough to withstand lots of ups, downs, and bumps, but also sensitive to changes in the force.
I always recommend starting an internal campaign well before a key hire is made. Socialize the idea of hiring a new leader, why it’s important, how it will help everyone, how it will benefit the company.
Communicate often about it and if possible, seek to build consensus among the current leadership team. Gather input from stakeholders and directly address any concerns (spoken or otherwise). If you trust your team’s acumen and maturity level, you may want to have them participate in the recruiting and interview process, to further build consensus, buy-in, and support for the new leader.
On the flip side, if you aren’t happy with your current team or current results, then you may not feel inclined to include them in the recruiting process. Be careful if you are going to exclude them—it may make it much harder for the new leader to jump in, galvanize and execute if your existing team doesn’t feel they were able to participate or buy into the process. In these cases, consider how you can include them in a way that helps create buy-in, but not necessarily consensus.
So, if it’s a solid team you trust, socialize the idea and include them in the process. If it’s a team who needs to be improved, socialize the idea, and consider how and when you include them in the process carefully.
Introducing new leadership to help take your company to the next level is exciting! Good luck!