Ep 64 // How to Take Over Another Leader's Team or Business

Ep 64

Taking over a team that already has structures and work culture in place can be daunting. Set yourself up for success with advice from Executive Leadership Coach Akua Nyame-Mensah she will tell you the steps you need to take for a smooth transition. 

This episode is relevant for any leader, especially if you are taking over a department/company, are inheriting a CEO role from a founder, or taking over another person’s online business. If you are a leader, this episode will provide you with tangible, actionable steps you can take as you assume your new role. 

Listen as Akua talks about her own experiences in taking over leadership roles and her experiences coaching others through the same. Find out some of the pitfalls and how to avoid them, remembering that there is no one “right way” to lead. Here is a framework from which you can work to become more self-aware, engage meaningfully, and set realistic expectations. 

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What's Covered in this Episode About Transitioning Leadership

  • Akua talks about how taking over a new market within her business gave her the opportunity to discover coaching as a way to engage better with her team.
  • When you take over an already-established leadership role, the first step is self-awareness.
  • Recognize and accept that you’re starting something new and realize you’ll show up differently in this new space.
  • Reflect on your strengths as a leader.
  • Be mindful of the poor leadership habits you could slip into when you get uncomfortable, like people pleasing or not setting boundaries.
  • Learn the importance of engaging with your team as a group and as individuals.
  • Set time boundaries for yourself. Tell yourself you will wait to make decisions until you’ve had time to understand the needs of the team.
  • Use a timeline to check progress and assess whether additional resources are needed.
  • Make sure you set realistic expectations for your team.
  • Learn the signs of overwhelm and how to combat it.

Quotes from this Episode of Open Door Conversations

  • "Businesses are about people. So this is really something I think that is key for every leader to reflect on." - Akua Nyame- Mensah
  • The biggest takeaway you'll probably get from this conversation is that when we're talking about transitions, when we're talking about teams, we're talking about businesses, there is no one right way to do this." - Akua Nyame-Mensah
  • "Your priority should be your people." - Akua Nyame-Mensah

Mentioned in How to Take Over Another Leader's Team or Business

Get to Know the Host of the Open Door Conversations Podcast

Learn more about your host, Akua Nyame-Mensah.

Akua is a certified executive and leadership coach, recognized learning and organizational development facilitator, speaker, and former startup executive. 

Since 2018, she has had the opportunity to partner with amazing organizations, from high-growth startups to multinational brands all around the world, to maximize people, performance, and profit.  Outside of her coaching and corporate speaking engagements, she is a regular mentor, coach, and judge for various entrepreneurship-focused organizations.

Stay in touch with Akua Nyame-Mensah, Leadership & Culture Advisor:

  • Read about Akua’s services if you’d like to learn more about how you can hire her to help you strengthen your organization’s culture.

  • Complete her contact form to jump on a call.

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Here’s the transcript for episode 64 about How To Take Over Another Leader’s Team

NOTE: Please excuse any errors in this transcript; it was created using an AI tool. Akua Nyame-Mensah 0:07 Welcome to the open door podcast. My name is Akua Nyame-Mensah. I also respond to Aqua and I'm a certified executive and leadership coach recognised facilitator and former sort of leader that loves supporting reluctant buyer fighting and overwhelmed leaders. I've worked with them to help them clarify where they should focus their time, and energy each and every day so that they can love themselves, love their work, and ultimately love their life. If you're looking to learn leadership information and hear different perspectives, you are in the right place. My aim in this podcast is to help you see that one of the most productive and profitable things you can do is deeply understand yourself. Understand how you show up, understand how you thrive, and allow yourself to align everything in your work in your life, and in your business to support that think of this podcast as your weekly opportunity to receive leadership support. And remember, there is no one right way to lead yourself or others. Thank you so much for taking the time to join me today. Let's get started. Hello, and welcome to this week's open door conversations podcast episode. I am really excited probably as always, for this week's topic, because I'm actually talking about something I have experienced myself, something I talked to a lot of leaders about. And that is about how to take over another leaders, another founders and other business owners, team or business and ultimately businesses are about people. So this is really something I think that is key for every leader to reflect on. But the biggest thing here, right, the biggest takeaway you'll probably get from this conversation is that when we're talking about transitions, when we're talking about teams, we're talking about businesses, there is no one right way to do this. And that's why it's so important to get outside of your own head to get the support of others who have maybe gone through it experts who can support your thought process, and building your own frameworks to help you think a bit about this. So in today's podcast episodes, I'm going to be diving into this topic, I will be reminiscing a bit, maybe sharing a little bit more of my experience than I typically do. And I will say straight off the bat, some of my memories and experiences aren't that positive. But I do think it is really important to reflect on it. And one of the reasons why I've ended up where I am today is because I took over another person's team, another person's online business, another person's online portal and all the individuals that came with it. So let's jump into this. And as always, if you have any questions, if you have any thoughts, any ideas, feel free to reach out, I'll be sharing a lot of the different resources I have on my website in relation to this conversation. Because I think that I have a lot of resources that already exists that can really support you on this journey, whether you are someone who is taking over somebody else's team, another new department, you're building something even from scratch, or you're a founder that's looking for somebody to take over a portion of your business, or you feel like you prefer starting businesses, as opposed to growing them. I think that this conversation is relevant for any and all leaders at the end of the day. All right. So by the end of this conversation, you will have a framework, some steps very tangible and actual steps that you can take, if you're looking to find someone to support you, or you are being handed over or given the opportunity to take over somebody else's business. The way I actually like to describe it is your inherent inheriting someone's team, someone's department, you know, someone's business. And I think that once again, the approach is pretty much the same, you just probably will have different stakeholders and different people that you might need to engage with. So a quick example of that is if you're a founder, and maybe you're stepping aside to let another CEO come in, or you're building out, you know, your first A C suite team, right? Some of the stakeholders might look a little bit different if you're working within another sector, right? Because in the case of being a startup founder, you have, you know, maybe investors right that that person might need to be able to engage within talk to versus being within a larger business where maybe those stakeholders are just primarily the team itself, and then maybe some HR people they need to learn they need to learn about or engage with. So just keeping in mind that there are some differences. But overall, I think that the thought process and framework is very similar. So as I mentioned before, I have first hand experience taking over another person's online platform and the team that came with it and as I talked about online platform, it is a business. But that's just how I refer to it because it was primarily an online classifieds websites. And I also support a lot of other leaders with integrating. And I think once again, it's the same thing, even if you're building your own team. So just to give you a bit more of the backstory, and you're also welcome to visit my website and go to my blog, I actually have an entire blog post dedicated to where I talk a bit about my decade and review. And so some of my professional lessons and reflections. And so you can definitely take a look at this. But just to give you an idea, sort of of how I started, I never thought I would end up in leadership, and then sort of ended up in leadership and finding this opportunity that I thought was somewhat impossible and getting very, very interested in trying to figure out how to engage because I realised my current way of showing up was not going to scale between the two markets I ended up working between I very much wasn't very emotionally intelligent, I thought that, you know, everyone was very much like me, and that, you know, I needed to figure out a way to sort of figure out how to support what I was doing. And so in 2015, I was asked to take over a Nigerian version of my business. And I had heard so many horror stories of taking over another person's business and other person's team. And to be honest, a lot of them were quite close to the truth. And I actually include this, I'm looking at the post right now, I include this in here. But I really wanted more responsibility, I really wanted to work between more than one market. And I did it. And it was really tough, it was really difficult. But I ended up being introduced to coaching as a way to build better or poor, because a member of the HR learning and development team saw that I was struggling, specifically in Nigeria, not so much in Ghana, but specifically in Nigeria. And so, you know, they were like, hey, you know, because you have to deal with a lot of office politics and all these really complicated team dynamics, you should consider learning a little bit more about this coaching tool or coaching in general. And that really might help you engage better with your team, you know, connect with them, and really help you to achieve some of these goals that you have. And so I was introduced to coaching and I honestly haven't looked back, right, I never thought that I would actually coach within our outside of a structured environment. But here I am, you know, working within my own business. And I've been doing that now for the last four years. So just wanted to give you a little bit of that backstory, just to give you an idea of how I got to where I am. And so with all the work that I do, and this is something I share with a lot of the content that I've put out there, right, it includes a bit of my experience, and includes right my coaching, work, and I've done a lot of work in, you know, with my coaching skills, you know, being a credentialed coach constantly thinking about upgrading my coaching approaches. And then of course, I have like an MBA, and I've done a lot of other interesting coursework in that space as well. So I you know, together, all of that is really what informs what I'm gonna be sharing today. And, of course, I'm using my my basic three step framework to support you through this. And so, you know, as I mentioned before, I'll make sure that I link a few resources in the show notes as well. Because at the end of the day, I think there's a lot of elements that can really help you on this journey. But the first step, and you know, if you've listened to any of my content, you've probably heard some version of this, but the first step really is around recognising that you're going into something new, recognising that you haven't done this before. But most importantly, you need to recognise that you're going to show up maybe a little differently in this new environment and in this new space. So it really starts with you cultivating your own self awareness. And so if you're interested in diving a little bit deeper into this, you can check out my blog post how to become an effective and impactful leader. Because I think that it's really going to help you think about some of these small steps that you can take to make sure you're in the right space to be able to, you know, connect with others be able to think about how you need to show up to make sure that you're successful. But the that first bit around cultivating your self awareness is about you thinking about, you know, what are my strengths as a leader, what am I weaknesses as a leader. It also might include you speaking to the previous leader or founder, whoever you're taking over from, if that's something that's possible, I also would recommend that you connect with board members, other team members beyond your actual team. So colleagues and things like that all of those elements, I think are really key and will help to shape once again, how you want to show up and how you want to move forward. Right? So bringing in elements of you know what you learned from your previous role, maybe you want to do differently. I always love to talk about it in the context of what I like to do. describe as the power of introductions, and how powerful it is for you to communicate your preferences, your biases, that you're aware of your background and all those elements to your new team, also, including that y piece, I think can be incredibly interesting. And once again, helps to build rapport. And depending on, you know, who you're taking over from, and what that situation is, you also might want to, you know, be very frank about what you're looking to do here, or what you're looking to learn how you need them in order to be able to move forward, because ultimately, you can't build anything by yourself or in a vacuum, and you will need their support in order to move forward. Another key thing here, and this is something I always love to reflect on, even as someone who works primarily by themselves is what are the poor leadership habits and routines you might slip into when you get uncomfortable, right, and really reflect on what you can do to work through them and how to deal with them if they do come up. And so one of the biggest things that comes up for me, as I reflect on my own experience, taking over somebody else's team is people pleasing in the importance of boundaries. And so I want to make sure that I do link that in the show notes, I have a blog post called How to stop people pleasing and set better boundaries. And I think that it is such an important thing to keep in mind as you cultivate your self awareness and are thinking about how you want to show up as a leader, and be really impactful, right? There are three basic leaders that I tend to support. And these are the three types of things that I slip into when I haven't got enough sleep, I feel like you know, things aren't working in my way or in either some of the bad habits that I tend to slip into. And once again, if you've taken a listen to any of my content, you might have heard me speak a bit about these at some point in time. But I think it's really important to remind ourselves of these three, there definitely are a lot more, but these are the three I'd like to focus on. So the first is really that reluctance piece. So depending on how you got into that position. So for example, if you were promoted, what might come up for you is potentially some imposter phenomenon. So being aware of that, and being aware of how that might show up for you, in terms of making decisions and engaging with others in the boundaries that you set will be really important. Another thing that comes to mind when I think about reluctance, especially in terms of the other team that I took over was the team constantly would say to me, well, that's how the previous leader used to do it. We used to do it x way we used to do it y way. And what that made me feel like was that, well, you know, then why do I really need to be here? Or what am I really doing here? Like, you know, ultimately, if we're just going to do everything that happened previously, or everything I do, you're going to tell me about this previous person, it makes me reluctant to want to show up. So being aware of the fact that that's going to happen, that's okay, that's natural, that's normal when you're coming into a new space. And there already are structures in place and ways in which things happen. There's a culture. So being aware of that, but also recognising that over time, that's something that you can shift and change and help to evolve. But you can't, you know, shift it and change it overnight. So recognise that that reluctance is going to come up if you get some pushback on how you show up or how you tend to do things. The second thing, right, that could come up when you're uncomfortable, you could slip into if you're uncomfortable, right? Is that overwhelm, right? And that overwhelm for me came from wanting to people please and then recognising like, well, I can't, I can't please everyone, right. So the situation I came into, there were the powers that be that wanted me to do certain things wanted me to come in slash and burn, I had my direct manager who also had some ideas of what I should do. And then of course, there was the team that was telling me that they were promised all these different things from the previous leader. So once again, recognising that that can happen. And so it's so important to set the boundaries right around when and how maybe you're going to make decisions. When you first start off, I'm just reflecting on this. And this is actually a conversation I have with my parents, sometimes my mom specifically my mom just started actually a new leadership position. And she's talking about or always is talking to me about how, you know, she set a boundary around when she's going to start making decisions, because she wants to go in there and just listen for a while before she starts making decisions. And what that means is it helps to reduce the overwhelm because she doesn't just jump in there and having you know, she doesn't have to make decisions, there's not it's not an overwhelming, you know, need to constantly make decisions because she set that boundary. And it's something that she's actually communicated to the powers that be into the team as well. So that's something that you can do, if you feel comfortable doing it, it's going to look a little bit different in every situation. But in the case of you know, thinking of my mom, and also reflecting back on the situation I was in, I also pushed back at the powers that be and said, Hey, I can't start making decisions immediately because that's gonna make it very difficult for me to build trust and I don't have the information I need to make some of these decisions you'd like me to make overwhelm for others might look like perfectionism. So feeling like you have to do everything and it has to be perfect before putting it out there. That's something that a lot of newer leaders tend to struggle with. Right. I also see this a lot when And people sometimes are promoted within, because they feel like they have this sort of chip on their shoulder this, this judgement that will come if it's not perfect, right? Especially if they're being compared to the person who was there previously. Right. And once again, that's something that I also dealt with as well, when I took over this team, it's very different building something new versus taking over something that already had some sort of leadership, some sort of culture, some sort of how right overwhelmed can also be once again, that people pleasing piece I mentioned before, so that that stakeholder management piece for others. And this is something I also struggle with could be analysis paralysis. So if you're coming in, and you want to make a decision, but you know, you're not, you know, the resources that you that you leverage to make that decision, right, you could be just pulling from all over the place. And so you're not able to move forward. It's not really constructive. And everyone's maybe upset because you haven't made a decision, you haven't actually moved anything forward. So just recognising that once again, a lot of these things are normal and natural and could come up. But just keep that in mind. Right? Do you tend to deal with reluctance? When you're sort of dealing in, you know, with a new situation? Or you're uncomfortable? Do you start to get overwhelmed? You know, or do you start to firefight and once again, this is something that can happen, especially if you have been promoted from within, and you kind of know how things are meant to go, you might start pushing people aside and feel like well, I can do it myself, and needs to be done in this specific way. And then what you start to do is just taking, oh, you start to take over all this work, and it ends up being a lot, right, you can end up being burnt out, and you're not building processes, once again, that are sustainable. So those are things that can come up right, some of those poor leadership habits that can come up when you're uncomfortable, when you aren't taking the time to learn about this new situation and are thinking strategically and intentionally about where you should spend your time and energy. And this last bit that I just wanted to mention in terms of cultivating your self awareness is really thinking critically about what boundaries you need to set. And I sort of alluded to this before, but as I mentioned before, like, do you want to make changes now? How much time do you want to give yourself to make changes, it can be a really great way to have some of those internal checks and balances. And we'll actually come back to this as I talk about the third sort of step that you can take around expectations. But before we get to expectations, let's talk a little bit about the second one, which is the importance of engagement, it can be very, very attractive to jump into a situation and just start doing as I mentioned before, but I'd really recommend that you don't just get in there and you start doing I'd recommend that you jump in there and get really, really good at listening, right and start to engage because ultimately, you don't know them, you don't know their needs, you don't know their wants, you don't know their culture. Even if you've been someone who has been promoted from within just pretend right? What I want you to do is sort of step into that, that mindset that your sponsor just here to absorb as much as you can, right. So really get to know the members of the team get to know their experiences, most importantly, give them an opportunity to introduce themselves. So similar to the power of introductions that I spoke about before you, as a leader, introduce yourself, give them the opportunity to introduce themselves, have an understanding, from their perspective, what they're working on, what's going well, what they need from you and the organisation to be successful. But really just recognising that a lot of times when you come in to a new situation that has a culture, right, that already has been working in a certain way, people might try to take advantage of you, right, or they might bring up something that they expected from the previous leader. And once again, that's normal, that's natural, but it's really important that you get just really curious. And that's why while you cultivate your self awareness, knowing what boundaries you want to set, and the decisions you're gonna make within a specific timeframe can be really helpful for you know, managing those expectations of those team members. Because a lot of times when you know, a new leader comes in, people are just going to come at you asking for all sorts of things because you're not really going to have the lay of the land. So getting really clear on you know what they need. And then realistically, what that looks like to roll out can be very helpful. Alright. And once again, just reflecting on my own experience, I remember when I came in to take over a team, the first thing like 90% of them, let me know was that they were all supposed to get raises, they were all supposed to be promoted. But unfortunately, none of it was in writing. So if you're listening to this, and you are on a team and you're about to get a new leader, make sure you get everything in writing, because that's really the only way that that new leader is going to be able to action something or really be able to work on it. It has to be in writing. So if you're an employee, make sure you get things in writing and if you're a leader, do not just give away or say that you're gonna give promotions and raises as a way to motivate others, right. Make sure that it's in line with whatever culture You're you have whatever processes you have. And if you're just a simple startup, once again, you want to make sure that everything's in writing, so at least an email. So back to thinking about engagement and really starting to get to know them. So I think a key point here with engagement that we sometimes forget as leaders is, it's really important to learn how individuals, right individuals, because everyone working for you as an individual, right, how they want to be acknowledged how they want to be celebrated, how they want to be recognised. And I think it's very important also, as a leader taking over another team, right, or, you know, the team that's going through this transition is to celebrate the wins of the team, right, just really just making sure that you do that, I think is a really great way to to build rapport, maintain, you know, a high level of engagement and motivation, and also help you right, get into the swing of things and understand what's happening. So when we think about engagement, the biggest thing that always comes up, and this is something I talk about all the time is that leaders say, I don't have the time. But ultimately, it's your job to engage, it's your job to make sure every member of the team has the resources, they need to be successful. So create the time as you build out your onboarding process. And different companies look a little bit different. Typically, they're talking about it from a 90 day perspective, it's really important that you create time and space to engage with your team in different ways. You want to make sure you engage with them as individuals and also as a group. And then you also want to make sure that you're engaging with the right stakeholders, as well. And if this idea of engagement, once again, you know, keeps you up at night makes you feel like, Hey, I don't have enough time, make sure that you take a look at my blog post exercises you can do to increase productivity, because what I do there in that blog post is break down some ideas on how you can help yourself prioritise. And also support others with thinking about your priorities as well. But long story short, if you're a leader, your priority should be your people. All right, this last bit. And I think that sometimes it's the most important and I think a lot of times overlooked, right engagement, super important. Self awareness is super important. But making sure everyone's on the same page, in terms of expectations is also incredibly important. And that piece that sometimes people miss is that time bound piece. And with time bound, I'm not suggesting you set unrealistic expectations, that's not motivating the time bound piece is to help you check in on progress, and have conversations about whether people need additional resources. And whether you yourself as a leader need additional resources, I think it's just really important to put that out there. Because ultimately, a lot of the leaders I tend to support because I do a lot of work at least one on one work with founders and startup leaders, it's very unrealistic. And that's very demotivating and can lead to people not feeling as engaged. So when answering that question or that statement, or reflecting on that statement, they don't know what you want. So it's really important to set expectations and over communicate them that first bit for you, as a new leader or leader in transition is to get very clear on the organization's approach to goal setting and giving feedback. I think that that is so very important. And it's really important for you to reflect on how that aligns with you and how you tend to show up, right? So how do they do it? Do they have an approach? Don't they have an approach, then what does that mean for how you keep track of what needs to get done, you might also need to get very familiar with the tools and resources that that company uses or that department uses to keep track of things. If they don't have any tools and resources, it might be important to ask, you know why they don't what they do instead, right? You just really want to get the lay of the land before imposing anything right before you deciding that you want things to go a certain way you ever you want to have an understanding, you want to do an audit of what they're currently doing first. All right, the next thing that you want to make sure that you do is you want to check in at regular intervals with yourself, right. And I think that's key. And then of course, the powers that be and when I use the word that powers that be it's simply because I work with leaders across the board. So if you work within a structured environment, it might be your direct manager, right? It might be HR, it might be compliance, it might be finance, those are the things that you might need to check in. If you're more on the startup side, right. It might be you know, a co founder, it might be investors, it might be your board of advisors, if you have one or your company has one. So it's really important to make sure that you're checking in with the right stakeholders to make sure that you are on the right track, you're bringing in the right information. But most importantly, that stakeholders that's really going to help you get to that next level is your team. So you want to make sure you have regular check ins with that. And that once again, relate to that engaged piece so you can use those regular check ins to see how you're doing and also engage with them to see what they need and how else you can support them so they can be successful. The long and short of it. If you've made it all the way to the end of this podcast episode is that you need to recognise that you can't go in guns blazing straight off the bat, right? It's going to lead to a lot of resistance right and I had a tonne of resistance when I joined or when I took over this other team. So it's really, really important for you once again to just really reflect on right how you're going to show up how you want to show up, right, engage, and most importantly, listen. And then last but not least, making sure that you're setting expectations that are, you know, allowing you to understand the lay of the land, and then allowing you to set yourself up for success into the future. And that involves right, engaging checking in making sure everyone's on the same page. All right, so that's all I wanted to share in this podcast episode this week. Once again, I'd really love to know your thoughts and what I've shared. Have you found this helpful? Am I missing anything? Please let me know. As always, thank you so much for taking the time to listen, stay safe and stay sane. Thank you so much for taking the time to listen to today's episode. If you enjoyed what you heard today, please share it with your friends. We can continue this conversation on social media the links to my socials so that is LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter. You can find them in the show notes. If you tagged me in a story and include the hashtag hashtag ask Akua I will share a special little gift with you. Thank you so much once again for your time and I cannot wait to share my next episode with you stay safe and sane.


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