Leading In A New Role – Scott McCarthy

March 12, 2021

Leading In A New Role – Scott McCarthy

Many of us feel anxious and overwhelmed when we take over a new role. As a leader, it can be intimidating becoming the head of a team when you are effectively the new person within the team. As a military officer, I change roles, therefore teams, every few years. Further to that, some of my team members change every year. To combat the anxiety and stress of establishing a new team, here are a couple of ideologies I have picked up over the years. 

You Don’t Know Squat

So many leaders out there think that they have to have all the answers when they show up to their role. The reality is, you don’t know squat. Regardless of if you are new to your organization or not, this is a new role. Therefore, you need to take your time in adjusting to your new responsibilities, team dynamics, and routine. I normally take three months to fully sink into a new role until I even think about making changes. Why? Because I do not know why things are the way that they are, for the reasons behind it. It’s imperative to have a full understanding of the history behind your organization, team, and culture before you start making changes. Therefore, this buffer period allows you to simply sit back and observe how your organization operates and ask questions to better understand the history behind those “problem areas” which spark your interest. 

Additionally, I always empower a veto holder. This person is someone who works very closely with me and is not shy to enter my office, close the door, and tell me to stop. The veto holder is empowered to stop me from making any changes during this “sinking in” period. This keys me out of the problem-solving space and in the learning and analyzing space. 

The Team Is Already Established

Often as leaders, we get a little self-centered around ourselves and the way that we operate. However, when we enter a new team we need to know that the team is already established and that in fact, we are the new-comer to the team. The team already has its culture, dynamics, and even little traditions well ingrained into it. Therefore, as leaders, it is imperative that we understand that if we show up and suddenly expect the team to change everything for us, then we are effectively destroying everything which that team has established before us. This places the team’s performance at risk and should be avoided at all costs. 

Servant leaders understand this point quite well. Coming from a place of serving your team members vice forcing them to serve you will enable you to incorporate yourself within the team.

New roles are always challenging yet exciting. Understanding how to properly navigate our first few months as leaders will enable us to ensure that we lead with confidence and conviction moving forward. Sometimes that means simply taking a moment or two and simply watching. 

Scott’s Bio

Scott’s leadership journey started when he was young and had the drive to take control of everything that needed to be planned. Transferring these skills to the Canadian Army, Scott enrolled as a Logistics Officer in 2001 when he was selected to attend the prestigious Royal Military College of Canada. At the age of 24, Scott commanded an Army transport platoon comprising over 80 soldiers. At 33, he was selected to command a Logistics Squadron of 200 members. However, his experience goes beyond commanding. 

In 2009, Scott deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan where he was selected to help train, mentor, and coach members of the Afghan National Army. Scott believes that everyone needs leadership skills. As a leader, he believes that delegation is a force multiplier, that teamwork is the centerpiece of all high-performing organizations, and that leaders have an obligation to leave a legacy that outlasts them.

Scott McCarthy

Host & Founder, Moving Forward Leadership

[email protected]


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