Navigating the complexities of a new leadership role can be both exhilarating and daunting. Whether stepping into a permanent position, overseeing a project team, or even joining as a member, understanding how to effectively transition and integrate with a new team is crucial. The initial steps you take can set the stage for your success and the overall well-being of the team. In this episode, we delve into the strategies and principles essential for leaders stepping into new roles. We explore why the first 90 days are pivotal, how to build trust and alleviate team anxiety, and how to gather valuable insights that inform future changes. By focusing on empathetic leadership, continuous learning, and strategic planning, new leaders can create a foundation for sustained success and high performance. This topic is vital for leaders at all levels, as the ability to smoothly transition into new roles can significantly impact the morale, productivity, and cohesion of the team and organization.

Timestamped Overview

  • 04:23 New leader advises to do nothing initially.
  • 08:53 New leaders should demonstrate humility and adaptability.
  • 13:17 Predecessor handover process for understanding and direction.
  • 16:49 Understand team, be empathetic, establish trust.
  • 18:33 Aspiring to lead and improve organization’s performance.
  • 21:21 Listen, learn, identify, plan, lead, execute, communicate.
  • 25:41 Support the podcast by sharing, subscribing, reviewing.
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The following is an AI generated transcript which should be used for reference purposes only. It has not been verified or edited to reflect what was actually said in the podcast episode. 


Scott McCarthy [00:00:00]:
So it’s happening to you. Heck, it’s happening to me right now. You’ve taken over a new role. Congratulations. You’re in charge of a new team. Amazing. But here’s the question. How do you start off? How is it as a leader you come in and take over a role and form the team that you’re about to lead? Those are the questions we’re going to answer today.

Scott McCarthy [00:00:34]:
It’s all about taking over a new role. Are you ready for this? Alright. Let’s do it.

Scott McCarthy [00:00:49]:
Welcome 1. Welcome all to the Peak Performance Leadership podcast, a weekly podcast series dedicated to helping you hit peak performance across the 3 domains of leadership. Those being leading yourself, leading your team, and leading your organization. This podcast couples my 20 years of military experience as a senior Canadian army officer with world class guests, bringing you the most complete podcast of leadership going. And for more, feel free to check out our website at

Scott McCarthy [00:01:23]:
And with that,

Scott McCarthy [00:01:24]:
let’s get to the show.

Scott McCarthy [00:01:32]:
Yes. Welcome 1. Welcome all. It is your chief leadership officer, Scott McCarthy, and thanks for tuning into this super important episode today, 1 which I’m currently experiencing personally, and I’m gonna take a lot of my personal experiences right now and bring them to you so that you can kind of leverage this experience for when you either are or later go through a change where you’re taking over a new team. Now, this could be something so that, formal, like this is your permanent role or maybe you’re just showing up to a project team that has a finite, period of time which it’s going to work together and you’re ahead of it, or maybe you’re a member, you can still apply the principles. Regardless, the principles are the same. The ideas behind it will follow suit regardless in any of those scenarios, whether you’re coming in as a brand new leader to the team whole, in a permanent role, whether it’s a project or whether you’re a team member. Okay? So just keep that in mind.

Scott McCarthy [00:02:45]:
That’s the beauty with principles. Right? Principles are principles. You just have to take them and use them for that situation and scenario. So just keep that in mind as we move forward through today’s episode. So let’s set the scene. You’re coming into this new role. And so many leaders out there, their inclination is that they need to really make a name for themselves. Right? They wanna show up.

Scott McCarthy [00:03:18]:
They wanna show that they care. They wanna show that they’re here to help and make positive change, do great things. So what do we do? We show up, we bust down the door, we look at things and we change things immediately and we just start quote unquote making things better. Right? That’s the way to do it. Right? No. Wrong. In fact, it is the opposite of what you should be doing. Okay? You actually coming into a new role, the thing is is that you need to do nothing.

Scott McCarthy [00:04:03]:
That’s right. Nothing. Now, do I mean sit there and twiddle your thumbs and spin around in your chair? No. Of course not. You’re gonna have core daily business that you need to do as a leader of a team. Right? It’s bound. You have that to do. Do that.

Scott McCarthy [00:04:23]:
What I mean by doing nothing is that you don’t want to show up and suddenly start making changes. Because keep in mind, what’s going through the team right now? Think about it from the team’s perspective. Okay? And it’s that they’re scared. They they don’t know what’s happening or going to happen. They know that you’re there as the new leader and you’re in charge of the team now, but what they don’t understand is how is this going to affect them? So the last thing you want to do is show up and suddenly start demanding all kinds of changes thus doubling down on this anxiety of how life will be. So do nothing. When I first showed up to my new role and for those who are not tracking, 2 months ago I showed up and took over, actually, I’ll even backtrack a little bit further and that this podcast and the business coaching and consulting I do is just it is a side hustle. I’ll do it in my spare time.

Scott McCarthy [00:05:43]:
By day, I’m a senior Canadian army officer. And 2 months ago, I took over the largest Canadian, supply depot in the country and in the forces. So now I run a team of approximately a 180 folks. We manage 4.3 to $4, 500, 000, 000 worth of stuff and we run a operating budget around 14, 000, 000 per year. So very large, very large operation, lots of moving parts, lots of things to learn and not to mention, it’s not necessarily my direct background. As a logistics officer, there’s all kinds of different specialties, and such. And my background has predominantly been in overarching operations and planning as well as transportation and not very much into the, what we refer to as, hard institutional support supply. All fine.

Scott McCarthy [00:06:45]:
I will learn. Right? So I show up to this new job in the first meeting I have with my team, I outlined that I’m there not to make changes. In fact, I am there to just keep the ship float at this time. And I mentioned to them that 90 days. It won’t be until 90 days until I start making changes or want changes made. Okay? And there’s all kinds of studies about the 90 day thing. There are books written on it. We’ve, had podcast guests almost lined up to come on the show to talk about this.

Scott McCarthy [00:07:37]:
You can feel free to check it out. I won’t go bother with hunting out all the those, sources per se. Just, take my word for it here. But you want 90 days. And I told them, I said, if you wanna know how I want things, it’s do it how the last supervisor, the last commandant, as we refer to the position, did it or wanted it. Make no changes for me. And there’s many reasons why you want to go through this period of 90 days. Okay.

Scott McCarthy [00:08:19]:
So let’s go back to what I mentioned earlier. The first thing is you want to remove the anxiety from the team. And this is 1 way to do so. By putting them in a place which is known and comfortable, you will eliminate the anxiety. They’ll feel comfortable and safe with you right away. So immediately, you’re building trust with them because you’re, like, basically telling them, like, hey, I trust you. What you’ve been doing thus far is perfectly fine. Don’t worry about changing it for me.

Scott McCarthy [00:08:53]:
Okay. So you remove that anxiety from them. As well, you have to keep in mind, you’re the new person. You are the new person. So despite the fact that you’re the leader of the organization, in my case, the overarching commandant, think of a CEO of a company of a 180 of a, you know, medium sized, medium to large distribution center, that’s effectively what I run-in quote unquote civilian speak, you are still the new guy or new girl. You’re the new person. Okay? And a core tenet of leadership is humility. So by exercising humility, by accepting the fact that you’re the new person on the block, you’re the new member of the team, you don’t want them to change everything to quote unquote suit your needs.

Scott McCarthy [00:10:00]:
And the reason for that is because you don’t know why things are the way they are. You don’t know why. You have no idea. You’re new to the team. Even if you’re a part of the team, you still are new because you have not looked at the team from the lens in which you sit at now. It is a completely different perspective. Sure, you’ll have a lot of background information and knowledge, you know, the learning curve will be definitely less and stuff, but your perspective is now changed. So you need to take the time.

Scott McCarthy [00:10:36]:
And this is why the 90 day window is so crucial. Do not make changes. You need to learn. It’s all about learning through this 90 day window. So how do we go about learning and setting yourself up for success in that 90 day window so that when you are ready to make changes, when you make the right changes at that time, you have an understanding of the background, you have an understanding what impacts there will be. There’s trust between you and your team members because they now believe in you. They know you. They understand how how you think and operate.

Scott McCarthy [00:11:29]:
So let’s go through some steps and some crucial things that you need to do and I will definitely throw in my personal experience through this 90 day window. And this is what I mean by you’re not just sitting there spinning on your chair and twiddling your thumbs. Okay? Keep the boat afloat and then dive in understanding. And the first thing is you have to understand the role obviously that you’re in. Like, if you don’t understand the role that you’re in, I question how you got that role in the first place. But you also wanna learn about the overarching organization, its culture, its values, how it operates, the interaction between you and your team and your supervisor and potentially their team if they have 1. Okay? You wanna look at the bigger picture and how your organization fits into that bigger picture so that you can have empathy for your peers and your supervisors and everybody else in an overarching grander organization and you can understand. So you need to do that research.

Scott McCarthy [00:12:38]:
And there are many ways to go about it. Right? Having meetings with other team members and your supervisor, obviously, and such, doing, web searches, kinda just torn around the company, sitting, obviously, and on briefings. No doubt there’s onboarding and stuff like this if you’re brand new to the company as a whole. Okay? Alright. But, also, great resources, you know, tapping into your predecessor, if that is available. Now I understand, you know, that’s not always possible. Sometimes people get fired, unfortunately, or they retire before you get hired in. But it is possible.

Scott McCarthy [00:13:17]:
Try to take a few days, at least. Sit with your predecessor and go over things, to understand what they’ve done in their time in that role, and the rationale and reasons for it, where they would like to move the organization in the next 3 months or so. Right? So when I took over this role, I managed to have about a week with my predecessor. And this is very common in military. We do this often and we refer to them as handovers, handovers, takeovers, And then usually at the end of these things is when the actual formal change of command or change of appointment occur, and then the new person, such as myself, are now in the seat. So you go through that process, and you go through and you pick their brain. Alright? And 1 of the last questions I asked my predecessor was, if you’re still in the seat for the next 3 to 6 months, where would your attention be? Where would you focus? That’s a crucial question, because it enables you a start point, gives you a rider to your boat, Gives you some clarity and direction where to go. Okay? So following that or during this time, you’re obviously gonna wanna have some initial meetings with your team members, your team, you know, your subordinate leaders, if you have a very deep organization.

Scott McCarthy [00:14:56]:
You want 1 on 1 meetings with them. And this is where you let them talk. Right? Talk about their team, talk about their organization, what its purpose is, how it’s structured and organized, who does what, who’s responsible for what, what their, you know, challenges are, and what their victories are as well. And you really wanna let the team lead, your subordinate lead that talk. It’s their time. Don’t turn it into your time. It’s them pushing information to you. And I guarantee you that by the end of the time, by the end of the day, you’re gonna be so exhausted.

Scott McCarthy [00:15:51]:
And they’ll ask you and they’ll be like, hey, do you have any questions? And the common response I gave was, no, but I’m sure I will later. Just because it’s so much information that’s coming at you. So you wanna just let them talk to you. Okay? Coupled with that, don’t just sit in a meeting, meeting room, or a office, but get them to take you around. I don’t even care if you just work at all in a office building. Look at their work conditions, have an understanding what they do, and ask them to, you know, put you to work. You want to touch and feel and do. You want to understand what it is that the team does.

Scott McCarthy [00:16:49]:
K? Understand what it is, the the difficulties they go through and just their daily jobs. And this will help you to be empathetic to your team when they come to you with problems. Keep that in mind as you go through your initial meetings with your team members. Okay? And you’re gonna take some time. You’re gonna take some time doing this, and this may take a week, maybe 2, depends on really the size and the dynamics of your organization. But the next thing you wanna do is have an understanding and you wanna really focus in on the team dynamics. Understand who works well with who, who doesn’t work well with who, why are there issues. You wanna do this by establishing trust and credibility, and that’s by being transparent with your team, being transparent about why you’re there.

Scott McCarthy [00:18:00]:
I got asked an amazing question by 1 of my subordinates to ask me, are you here for yourself? Are you here for the organization? I was like, solid question. A difficult question to answer that. I said, you know what? I can get back to you. And I did a few days later in front of everybody. This is how I built trust and credibility. I said, you know, this member asked me that question, and here’s my response. I said, it’s both. Let me explain.

Scott McCarthy [00:18:33]:
I’m here for myself because I’ve always had the goal of reaching this role. Wanted to be this role, want to command a organization like this and be the person in charge, because this is where I feel I operate my best at and I bring the most to the overall organization as a whole. But I’m also there for organization. I’m there to make it better. I’m there to wake up every day and ask myself, how can I make the lives of my team members better today? And that there and answering those questions, being transparent is building the trust and credibility with the team members. So you wanna look at right away establishing that trust and credibility. You know, you don’t have to answer a question like that. There’s many ways that you can establish trust and credibility.

Scott McCarthy [00:19:26]:
Right? Be compare transparent, communicate, Show respect. Thank them. Be amazed with what your team does. Your people don’t wake up and go, I wonder how lazy I can be today or I wonder how I can mess up today. They don’t do that, but rather they most people want to do amazing job and feel good about it. You wanna show continuous learning as well. You’re there to learn. Even if you’ve been in that industry for 20 years, been in that company for 50 years, there’s still things to learn.

Scott McCarthy [00:20:09]:
You can’t know it all. So getting people to teach you things as you go through this period is a way to show that learning aspect. It also helps build that trust and credibility that I talked about. K? You wanna look for common challenges throughout. There are no doubt things which have been left to the side that haven’t been dealt with for too long that need to get addressed, but it wasn’t necessarily a priority for the last person. That’s okay. Right? So you wanna start identifying these things. But again, when you’re within that 90 day window, you’re not acting on it, you’re just identifying it.

Scott McCarthy [00:20:56]:
You’re looking for those cans that have been constantly kicked down the road but never been packed up and put in the recycling bin. It’s time to stop having those cans kicked. So we want to walk in it. Oh, there’s a can. Oh, there’s 1 over there. Oh, that one’s got a bunch of leaves on it. That 1 hasn’t been touched for a while. And you’re looking for those cans.

Scott McCarthy [00:21:21]:
You’re identifying those challenges. Your people will identify this, you just gotta listen to them. Again, being humble, listening to understand and not listen to respond. Okay? And as you go through this 90 day period, you’re listening, you’re learning, you’re identifying these problem areas, and next, building a plan. You’re building a plan and and getting ready to establish your vision on how you see the organization moving forward, And you wanna do that near the end of your 90 day window. Build that plan, start issuing tasks, start giving guidance and direction, like, alright, folks. Here are the things which I’ve noticed we need to work on. Here here are our deliverables, which I want us to work on, and making sure people understand, 1, what the actual problem is, 2, your idea to fix it, 3, who’s taking the lead on fixing it? K.

Scott McCarthy [00:22:41]:
Maybe that’s yourself, maybe that’s a different team member, maybe that’s another subordinate. But you’re identifying your priorities within that plan and vision, and you’re communicating that to your team. And most importantly, you’re giving them opportunity to provide feedback and challenge it a bit. Put their 2¢ in. Right? And you should be soliciting ideas throughout. And once you hit the end of that 90 day window, now it’s go time. Now it’s time to start picking up those cans and dumping them into the recycling bin. Why? Because you know what cans need to get picked up.

Scott McCarthy [00:23:24]:
You know, you’re gonna go after the pop cans first. Next will be those, you know, empty, food, you know, preserved food cans, and, oh, there’s a bunch of plastic clamshells laying around. We’re gonna get those 3rd. Identifying the priorities and you’re going after it. This will set you and your team up for success. Why? Because you’ve set a sense of psychological safety within them, you relieve their anxiety, they now feel safe with you, you spent enough time learning, you didn’t just show up like a wrecking ball. I came in like a wrecking ball. And, yeah, no.

Scott McCarthy [00:24:11]:
I can’t sing, so I’ll never do that again. But you get my point. You didn’t show up like a wrecking ball and said you’re gonna destroy everything and set things up. Rather, you showed more of, like, the general contractor that went around and scanned everything, took measurements, identified where the problem areas are. I’m like, wait now, yep, that water leak there actually isn’t, you know, a bad roof, but it’s actually coming in through your windows. We need to change some tape and reseal around the windows and do a couple things. And then we can go ahead and fix the interior damage after that, and life will all actually be good. Instead of, let’s just tear the house down and rebuild it.

Scott McCarthy [00:24:52]:
Right? That is the goal. That’s how you set your team up for success. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you take over a new role. So I would love to hear from you. What are your thoughts? Have you tried this before? Maybe you can implement it now, but I would love to hear from you. Nonetheless, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for tuning in. Thank you for listening and subscribing. Most importantly as always, lead, dump boss.

Scott McCarthy [00:25:28]:
Take care now.

Scott McCarthy [00:25:33]:
And that’s a wrap for this episode, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for listening. Thank you for supporting the Peak Performance Leadership podcast.

Scott McCarthy [00:25:41]:
But you know what

Scott McCarthy [00:25:41]:
you could do to truly support the podcast and know that’s not leaving a rating and review, it’s simply helping a friend. And that is helping a friend by sharing this episode with them if you think this would resonate with them and help them elevate their performance level, whether that’s within themselves, their teams, or their organization. So do that. Help me, help a friend win win all around and hey, you look like a great friend at the same time. So just hit that little share button on your app and then feel free to fire this episode to anyone that you feel would benefit from it. Finally, there’s always more. There’s always more lessons around being the highest performing leader that you can possibly be, whether that’s for yourself, your team, or your organization. So why don’t you subscribe? Subscribe to the show via movingforwardleadership.comforward/subscribe.

Scott McCarthy [00:26:43]:
Until next time, lead, don’t boss, and thanks for coming out. Take care now.