From The Conference Board C-Suite Challenge™ 2021

Top 3 Human Capital focus issues:

1.  Recruit, retain top talent
2.  Develop “Next Gen” leaders
3.  Build agile teams


Top 4 qualities CEOs say they seek most in future leaders:

1.  Innovative thinking
2. Ability to execute
3. Building trust and integrity
4. Team leadership


You're an experienced leader stepping into a team dynamic that's new or changing.

And whether it's an established team or a newly formed team; whether it's a virtual team, an in-person team, or some hybrid of the two, the challenge is the same:  How do you quickly align with your team, effectively engage your team, and optimize their performance to accelerate success?


ECC Executive Coach Sandy Reeser has been coaching leaders and teams for over 20 years. “Stepping into a new team leader role brings a lot of possibility as well as potential challenge even for the most seasoned leaders. A natural tendency with many leaders is to hit the ground running in a more reactive, problem-solving mode. A role I play as a leader transition coach is to help them lift up and create a sustainable foundation for long-term success.”

To help new team leaders onboard quickly and effectively, Sandy offers 4 key steps with a “challenge your thinking” checklist for each.


STEP #1:  Assess the Situation – Identify critical influencers

Alignment on the team’s vision, goals, and "our ways of working" sets the backdrop and operating climate for the team.


Checklist Questions

  • What is the current business landscape - start-up, turnaround, re-alignment, sustaining, etc.?
  • How might it change over the next 12, 18, 24 months?
  • What pressure(s) is that placing on the team now? In the future?
  • Are the team’s vision and goals aligned with expectations? If not, what needs to change?
  • What is the resulting potential and promise for the team?
  • How is the team currently operating?  What will need to change?


STEP 2:  Understand Your Team – Conduct your due diligence

Great team leaders cultivate their listening to uncover greater opportunity. They listen to learn. Conduct 1:1s with an atmosphere of open, honest, candid conversation. While in-person is always preferable, if remote, be sure to conduct video calls, not phone calls. Pay careful attention to both verbal and nonverbal cues - what's spoken as well as what’s unspoken.


Checklist Questions

  • How well does the team share a common vision?  (Listen for "we" vs. "me" language)
  • Where’s the ‘noise’ on the team? And what’s the resulting opportunity?
  • How well is the team currently working together? How do they approach conflict?
  • What contributes to the effectiveness/ineffectiveness of the team? How can we close the gaps?
  • How well do the team members really know each other? When's the last time they met in person?
  • What roadblocks are the team/individual team members facing?
  • What is the one big change that could help each team member become more effective?


STEP 3:  Step Out of Your Comfort Zone – Reflect and self-assess

Highly effective leaders understand their leadership style, how it impacts their performance, and are open to growth. Understanding your core purpose in leading the team (think more relational and less transactional) and how you will need to show up for your team as their leader will be critical to both your and your teams’ success.


Checklist Questions

  • What is the essence or core of why I am in this team leader role?
  • What is my hope for the team, from their perspective and from mine? How does that impact my leadership?
  • How will I know I’m successful in this role?
  • How will I have to lead differently in this situation – and how will it bring me out of my comfort zone?
  • What does/will the team need from me? Where and how can I have the greatest positive impact?
  • How do I want to be remembered as a leader in this team role?


STEP 4:  Align and Inspire Your Team – Set the tone for a vibrant culture & strengthened cohesion

Establishing and nurturing a vibrant, dynamic team culture where team members think as enterprise leaders, drives powerful interactions that exponentially propel positive outcomes. Inspiring your team through your own personal vision drives cohesion and unity toward a common team purpose that’s centered in driving success for the business.


Checklist Questions

  • How do I stretch my team members to be enterprise thinkers - to think and engage beyond their silos?
  • What is a win I can have quickly for/with the team to motivate and build team pride and accomplishment?
  • What actions will I take to  set the tone for the team? Express my hope(s) for the team? Align on expectations?
  • What does good look like?  What does great look like? How will we celebrate success?


“More than ever, leaders need to create teams that can work with increasing complexity," explains Sandy. "For teams to be high performing, it’s critical that new leaders align quickly and effectively. Cultivating agile, high-performing teams creates a competitive advantage that will continue to drive success for the organization."


Additional Resources for New Team Leaders:

  1. Optimizing Team Performance: Team Leadership Checklist. Executive Coaching Connections (ECC). <link>
  2. Onboarding New Leadership Team Members (Without Losing Them). Jack McGuiness, Chief Executive, February 18, 2021. <link>
  3. Onboarding a New Leader – Remotely. Mary Driscoll and Michael D. Watkins, Harvard Business Review, May 18, 2020. <link>


ECC has an experienced global team of executive coaches who are certified, trained, and highly skilled in providing specialized support for new team leaders and leadership team alignment. If you or your organization are looking to onboard a new executive team leader and strengthen leadership team performance to drive business results and accelerate success, we’d welcome the opportunity to partner with you. Email us at [email protected] or give us a call at +1.847.920.0190.



Executive Coach, Sandy Reeser, CPC, PCC  <bio>

Sandy Reeser is an ECC Executive Coach based in Chicago, Illinois, USA. Prior to ECC, Sandy held a variety of change management roles during her ten years at Accenture, including being responsible for large-scale, culture initiatives across 23,000 employees spanning the U.S., Latin America, and Canada. Sandy’s deep experience spans various industries including telecommunications, healthcare, energy, technology, business & professional services, education, and non-for-profit organizations.Sandy holds a Master’s in Organizational Behavior Studies from Benedictine University and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration-Organizational Behavior Studies, from University of Illinois.