leader talking to team in the office

Transitioning into a new leadership position is a pivotal time to reflect on where you are and where you want to be. Understanding the questions to ask during the leadership transition process is essential to approach your position with purpose and ensure your success and the success of your team. Leaders who successfully transition achieve their three-year performance goals in 9 out of 10 teams.

Preparing for the new leadership role is important because nearly half of leadership transitions fail, and as many as 74% of leaders feel unprepared for their new roles.

Team members whose leaders experienced poor transitions:

  • Are 20% more likely to be disengaged or leave the company.
  • Have performance levels 15% lower than those whose leaders have had successful transitions.

Leaders must take time to reflect and initiate the appropriate conversations with their teams. Every leadership transition carries uncertainty, and the CMOE team is here to help you prepare and develop a clear roadmap.

Here are the key questions to ask during a leadership transition. These questions will help you begin your new role with purpose and action.

4 Self-Assessment Questions

Take a few minutes to reflect on these four self-assessment questions

1. What Are Your Leadership Priorities?

Consider the goals of your new position. Which goal(s) will you focus on first? Which will have the greatest impact? Which will create momentum for future goals?

Once you’ve identified your highest priority goals, attach specific practices to each goal to effectively deliver results.

For example, if a goal is to create a learning culture within the team, one practice could be collaborating with each team member to create an individualized learning development plan.

2. What Might Get in the Way of Those Priorities?

Knowing yourself and this new role, how might you get in your own way of achieving your goals and focusing on your priorities?

Consider specific behaviors, feelings, and thoughts that may inhibit you from fulfilling your priorities from question #1. For example:

  • What current behaviors or habits might prevent you from following through on the action plan towards this goal? What unhelpful thought patterns have you encountered while pursuing previous work goals?
  • What strategies might help you overcome them as you transition into leadership?
  • As you consider your new role, are there any emotions that come up as you embark on this role? Common emotions may include feeling anxious, underqualified, concern about the unknown or being overly energetic. If so, think through how you might manage these emotions and turn them into something productive, like excitement and confidence in your abilities.

This reflection increases self-awareness and improves stress tolerance for when inevitable challenges arise.

3. What Will You Do to Empower Your New Team?

Your team members are your greatest asset in enabling you to achieve your leadership goals. Working closely with them and investing in their growth and expertise is important to the team’s long-term success.

Think about your team collectively and individually. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the team and each individual team member? How can you leverage these areas to encourage empowerment and facilitate skill building and development across the team?

What hesitation or resistance do you anticipate from your team? How can you open up dialogue or resolve their concerns with this leadership transition?

4. What Will You Not Do?

Just as planning what you will do is crucial, reflecting upon what you will not do is essential. Revisit the questions above and take notes on what you will clearly avoid as you work towards these specific goals. Also reflect on what you have seen other leaders do because this is an opportunity to show both you and the team your leadership capabilities.

What are the behaviors and approaches that those less effective leaders have demonstrated that you do not agree with or do not want to model? What behaviors would be out of alignment with your personal values? Or the organization’s values?

This reflection establishes boundaries and limits, which are a pivotal element of a leader’s skill set that build trust and drive strategic decisions.

Discover how CMOE's leadership training workshops can create lasting change and address the unique needs of your leaders.

team business tmeeting with leader

3 Questions New Leaders Should Ask Team Members During a Transition

It is natural for a team to have concerns, hesitations, or doubts during a time of change. New or recently transitioned leaders need to initiate dialogue about changes with the team and its team members. Engaging them in dialogue about a transition will help to build trust, set them at ease and open up lines of communication as the transition occurs.

Ask your team these questions to help ease potential anxieties and steer them in the right direction:

1. What Are Tasks/Projects that Bring a Sense of Fulfillment for You?

Individuals spend one-third of their lives at work. When a person’s role has meaning and value to them, their engagement and satisfaction increase. Take time to discover each person’s purpose, or what they find fulfilling, and tailor tasks and projects to increase personal meaning and value.

2. What Have Past Leaders Done That You Liked and Didn’t Like?

This question aims to identify the leadership styles with which a team member might resonate with best.

Consider asking team members for specific examples of actions, attitudes, or responses to situations from past leaders that they admired or appreciated. While still being respectful of the previous leader, ask for specific behaviors or incidents that they perceived as ineffective or demonstrating poor leadership from their previous work experiences.

The process of initiating this discussion generates actionable insights on how best to connect and lead your team members and things to avoid. From there, you can adjust your leadership approach in a way that will resonate with each person and their unique communication style.

3. How Do You Like to Receive Praise or Recognition?

Offering support during this phase is crucial. During a time of transition, team members are more likely to be part of the 46% percent of workforce members who leave their jobs because they feel underappreciated. As you manage the upfront pressure of the transition, it is your job to show the team that their contributions are valued and appreciated.

While some people like recognition in front of peers or colleagues, others prefer to receive praise in a more low-key setting, such as during a 1:1 meeting or through other direct communication methods.

Understanding team members’ preferences helps them feel seen and heard.

Knowing what key or critical questions to ask during a leadership transition is essential. By engaging yourself and your team, you will ensure your successful transition to new roles. For more guidance, learn about CMOE’s Transition to Leadership workshop.