Starting out as a Leader in a New Company

Bimlesh Gundurao

Partner & CoFounder at Foundership



You have just taken up a new role as Leader of a Product Development team in a large organization. There are existing teams and their current leader is on their way out. You need to transition. Just in the few days you have been around, you are constantly hearing great things about the previous leader. The team is mixed in composition of Sr. Engineers and Jr. Engineers with gender diversity. How do you transition properly?

Actions taken

I had 4 weeks of time to transition from the previous leader. He was from the US leadership team. He had been with the company for a long time and knew his way around the corporate process to get operational tasks to closure for the team to deliver.

  • Spent good time with him to understand his hiring decisions and factors on each of the team members
  • In detail sought information on his perception of each team member strength, areas of challenge & potential
  • Goals for the next 6 months and 12 months that were defined
  • Known management challenges to expect
  • Insights on the key stakeholders from the global team

In the first few weeks of my onboarding

  • Spent 1:1 with each team member over lunch and coffee - outside the office areas
  • Shared my strengths to each of them
  • Shared my management principles and beliefs - my work ethics; how I work
  • What to expect of me as their leader
  • Listen to their perspective of accomplishments, challenges and ideas
  • Spent lot of my time, in understanding the product portfolio and getting my hands dirty on the product, review the product roadmap, customer profile etc
  • Interact with customer support & customer success leaders to get a pulse on Customer Perspective
  • Presented the same to the team in 45 days

Lessons learned

  • Every team is dealing with change and uncertainty when there is a change in their leaders role
  • Be approachable, be available: it helps to calm nerves and build trust
  • Listen to every conversation early on from all stakeholders effectively as you get your feet wet
  • Spend time to know insights from your incumbent (when they are around or get access to the HR files) to get to the rationale of the teams current actions & behaviours
  • Establish Trust and Credibility on the Product to enable the team to look up to you
  • Empathise with the team during this phase, Listening is very important
  • Communicate regularly to the team as they will look for consistency
  • Share how you work and your work ethics so that they understand why you do - what you do

"Be approachable, be available: it helps to calm nerves and build trust"

"Listen to every conversation early on from all stakeholders effectively as you get your feet wet"

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Bimlesh Gundurao

Partner & CoFounder at Foundership

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