Starting a New Job

July 9, 2008

About a month or so ago I started a new job. I didn’t realize how much time I had spent building relationships and figuring out processes and how to get things. It can be an amazing and frustrating thing to start something new. Here are a few things I learned and tried along the way.
One important thing that I learned is how important it is to have a good understanding of your “informal value.” Jim Collins in his Good to Great in the Social Sector pamphlet refers to this as legislative leadership.

Legislative leadership relies more upon persuasion, political currency, and shared interests to create the conditions for the right decisions to happen.

In the nonprofit world autocratic leadership doesn’t really work. I needed to get to know my fellow staff and understand and show respect to the processes that were in place before I came up with or tried to institute any new ideas. This can be incredible irritating and frustrating but I found it to be so important.
Read as much as you can about the organization. Figure out how they talk about themselves and how they present themselves to the community. I try and take what I’ve learned and make it my own so I can talk competently about the organization using a mix of their words and mine.
One of my biggest mistakes coming in was being too concerned about what my “new role” was going to be. I started to realize very early that the more time I spent in the organization the more I would start to see gaps and understand what I really needed to push to move along and what happened naturally already.