It happens all the time. Headquarters or the owners drop someone in to help a division or portfolio company accelerate through a point of inflection, working for a boss who doesn’t want them. If you’re the one getting dropped in, jump-shift your loyalties immediately. 1) Disengage from your previous situation; 2) Engage with your new boss; and 3) Do what is required to accelerate progress – in that order.


Whatever the people that put you into the job have in mind for the long-term, over the short term, everyone needs you to help your new boss and their organization be more successful.

Be prepared for your new boss to fear the worst – that you were dropped in for a darker purpose. They may think you’re there to spy on them, to shore up one of their personal weaknesses, or to replace them. As much as they try to bury those concerns, and whether they voice them or not, they are real and must be addressed before they can trust you.

Your long-term loyalty to the people that put you in to work for your new boss is best served by transferring your immediate loyalty from them to your new boss. Help them by helping your new boss. Make this is a hard shift. You no longer work for the people you used to work for. You work for your new boss and have to earn their trust. The best way to earn trust is to be trust-worthy.

Be explicit with the people that put you into the job. Be clear that you’re going to route communication to them through your new boss. Neither they nor you should go around your new boss in any way. You may not be able to and may not want to sever all communication links, but you can make sure your new boss knows everything you’re telling their bosses – ideally before you tell them. And in all cases make sure your new boss hears about communication with their bosses from you and not from them.