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You Just Took Over a New Team, Now What?

Over your career, you will likely change jobs. If you are a team leader, a change in jobs probably means a change in teams as well. In an ideal world, you would get to handpick every person on your team to recruit only “A” players who work well together. When you move to a new team, you have to work with the team you are given and get the best out of them.

A first step to get the best out of your team is to know what you are working with. In your first weeks, you can assess the strengths and weaknesses of each member of your team through your own interactions and through past reviews and feedback from previous leaders. Once you have this information on your individual team members, you can see your team in a new light – as a portfolio of different performance and behavior patterns that you need to lead to generate the best combined results possible.

The Leadership Matrix is a tool you can use to identify the performance patterns people on your team are demonstrating. The Leadership Matrix helps you evaluate the amount of output you get from each team member and compare that to the amount of time and energy you have to invest in them to get it. Within that matrix, we define behavioral-performance patterns that team members demonstrate from Slackers to Rising Stars and everything in between. The real insight lies in practical advice on how to lead those folks to improve their performance. By understanding the behaviors your team members will demonstrate and how you invest (or don’t invest) your time and effort into them, you’ll get a clearer picture of the 8 archetypical behaviors that can show up in the box. With that understanding, you can begin leading differently, which will improve your performance.


Leadership Matrix


Those archetypes are as follows:

  • Exemplars can be categorized based upon their career aspirations. Some Exemplars want their great performance to provide them a stepping stone to larger roles and responsibilities. These are the “Rising Stars.” Other Exemplars are content remaining in their current roles. They’re experts and they’re satisfied with delivering outstanding results without much interference from their boss. These individuals are the “Domain Masters.”
  • High Cost Producers break into subtypes based on the kinds of costs they incur. Some get results but at the high cost of damaging team morale and destroying the goodwill you and your team have accrued with others. These individuals are the “Steamrollers.” High-Cost Producers who get results but require an inordinate amount of hand-holding from their leader to get them done are the “Squeaky Wheels.”
  • Detractors are defined by the root cause of their performance issues. Some don’t have the skills they need to do their job. These individuals are the “Square Pegs.” We call Detractors who have the skills to do the job but they lack the will to do it the “Slackers.”
  • Passenger subtypes are determined by the kind of output they produce. Some only work to get their paycheck. They expend the bare minimum amount of effort required to keep getting paid. These are the behaviors of your “Stowaways.” Other Passengers exert a great deal of energy but they focus on tasks they want to do, not tasks you need them to do. We refer to Passengers behaving this way as “Joyriders.”

Once you have identified the behavioral-performance patterns present on your team, you will see your team in a new light. (You can use this simple online tool to assess your team using this framework.) Armed with these new insights, you can figure out the specific type of leadership each team member needs from you to improve their performance. By seeing your team as a portfolio, you can also figure out where you should invest less of your time in some parts so you can shift it to invest more in other parts. In short, you will learn to get better results out of your team by working smarter, not harder, as a leader.

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About Victor Prince

Victor is co-author of Lead Inside the Box: How Smart Leaders Guide their Teams to Exceptional Results, (Career Press, July 2015) which is now available at, Barnes & Noble and other retailers.