Talked with a friend about how the high school he is coached football at hired a new coach, who assumed everything was wrong, everyone was worthless, and that he knew better. The result is that the long term assistants, who had much to do with the great winning record in the past, are gone, the players are confused and they lost their first game to an clearly inferior team.

Bringing the all powerful leader in who feels he has to change everything to prove his worth, almost never works out. Didn’t work at HP at with Carly Fiorina, didn’t work at Michigan with Rich Rod (much to my horror), and it won’t work at your company either.

The leaders who win in this situation, come in and look for what was done right in the past and reinstate, refresh, and reinvent it for the current circumstances. Winning leaders come in and find what is going on right and who is doing the right things and start building right there. Winning leaders recapture the past and improve it.

I received some very good advice when I was transferred to Albany to fix the Kelly Services office there. “We don’t know what is going on good or bad here, but we aren’t happy with the results. Go in and observe for 60 days. Don’t make any major changes in haste. Wait until the 60 days is over, then you will know what to do. Then do it. Keep us posted.”

It kept me from doing things that would later have to be redone. Everyone knew I was the new boss and was going to change things. I didn’t have to prove my worth right away by doing something big.

The situation where everyone is getting everything wrong is rare. Be careful in jumping to that conclusion. Don’t get sucked into the “fix everything” strategy. It doesn’t work, it just sets you back more.