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Picking up the pieces- How to turn around damages of bad leadership

While taking up a new leadership position comes with energy and optimism, there are cases where a new leader may inherit a mess from the preceding leader. On such occasions, the organisation is usually performing badly in terms of productivity and sales, lost customer trust and employee morale is low. Upon appointment, the Board of Directors is looking up to you to restore the organisation’s lost glory.

This is a tough position to be in, but a leader knows and understands that leadership comes with its share of challenges. The good news is it is possible to pick up the pieces and overturn the damages of bad leadership bringing some optimism into the organisation. This is how to go about it:

1. Don’t play the blame game

Passing on blame to the previous leader may seem like the easy way, but you don’t want to go down that road. Taking up the leadership responsibility means that you want to lead the organisation to look forward to a brighter future, not constantly reminding the people of the past. A good leader takes responsibility and the challenge to forge a way ahead, despite the faults of another person. You want people to trust you and your leadership abilities so give them hope and don’t remind them of past errors.

2. Engage the people

As much as you have been appointed to turn around the organisation, you will not understand the real extent of the damage done simply from reports presented to you. As a leader, wearing a superhero cape and sitting on the high throne will not offer you solutions. The Gallup Employee Engagement Survey showed that employees whose managers are open and approachable are more engaged. You will need help from the employees who have direct contact with customers, production and the real taste of the organisational culture to provide you with real insights in a constructive way. This means you have to engage employees on their departmental level as well as personal level to understand exactly how far the negative effect has gone and what has been done about it. You cannot offer a solution to the problem without having the correct diagnosis.

3. Encourage an adaptive culture

The toughest part to transforming the damages of bad leadership in an organisation is the culture. Bad leadership leaves employees with negative attitudes towards leadership since they have may have experienced leadership as oppressing. To encourage an adaptive culture, empower employees though talk, training, delegation, seeking their opinions and even better, adopt an open door policy. Opening your door to employees shows that you care enough to encourage discussion of what is on their minds, listen to their ideas and commend them for work well done. Perhaps creating a positive culture is the toughest part, but it is also the most rewarding. Once employees are optimistic and have regained high morale, other aspects will fall in place.
As a new leader brought in to fix the damages of previous bad leadership, you may not pick up all the pieces at once, but with time, you and your employees will work together towards making the organisation a better place for everyone.

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