A few years ago, someone I know (whom I respect too much to identify) started a new job. This person has a slightly unusual name and, as is often the case in these situations, new colleagues had seen their name before meeting them. Understandably, the first colleague who spoke to them pronounced the name incorrectly. This was a decisive moment.
Ever since that time the person has been called by a mispronounced name – and not just by the first colleague, but by most of those on the team. Why? Because that first person introduced them to the rest of their colleagues, mispronouncing it, and so on. They were not corrected. The error became progressively more difficult to rectify, until they just learned to live with it.
It’s important to set your stall out from the start: instead of easing into something, you should be looking to hit the ground running and make a difference from Day One. Preparation is key. Just as good teachers know that it’s the connections between learning activities that are often most important, so with any new situation it’s not only how you act but how you react that matters.
This, of course, is especially important to new leaders. Your first actions and communications set the tone for the rest of your time as leader in that organization. Get them right first time.
Image CC BY-NC Larah McElroy