|Source: Business Wire|
When we transition to a different leadership role, we can and should think carefully about the new skills and behaviors that will be required to succeed in that new position. For instance, as people shift from a role as a functional expert to being leader of a cross-functional team, they need to consider how much more important their team formation and building skills will be, as opposed to their particular expertise about certain subject matter. Similarly, when a C-suite executive becomes promoted to CEO, they need to consider how many more outward-facing activities in which they will need to engage, including investor relations, major customer relationship management, outreach to public officials, and the like.
Having said that, one cannot fundamentally change their leadership style. Attempts to do so often cause others to perceive leaders as inauthentic. You are who you are. You can't and shouldn't try to adapt your style simply because you have a new role. Naturally, you should be engaging in self-reflection and adapting based on what you learn from experience. However, you can't alter your DNA as a leader. Lauren Hobart, the new CEO at Dick's Sporting Goods, articulated this challenge well in a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal. She said,
In this case, Ed (her predecessor) and the board tapped me. When they came and said, “You’re the person,” immediately my thoughts were that I had to change my entire management style. I have been a person who is extremely open. I write letters. In my time as chief marketing officer, I wrote weekly emails to the marketing team, and I would tell them stories about my kids, or about my mom, or a fight I had, or this or that realization about the business. It was always very nonpresidential, in my opinion. I did say to Ed, “Now I’m going to have to change absolutely everything. I can’t be posting selfies in emails to the whole group and to the whole company.” He disagreed and said, “What got Lauren Hobart to be in this position is Lauren Hobart, and we don’t want Lauren Hobart to change.” And so, I haven’t held back at all.