A vocal leader who is not afraid to ask questions, Angela Ahrendts is offering her guidance to those who are making big changes in their careers, such as herself. In a post on LinkedIn, she tells those who are also starting anew, “Stay in your lane.”
Having left her CEO position at Burberry, Ahrendts joined Apple in May in a newly-created retail position, as a senior vice president and member of the executive team, reporting directly to CEO Tim Cook.
Ahrendts has just over a month at Apple, so we have yet to see her mark on the retail operations of the Cupertino giant. But she is eager to share the feeling of a fish out of water with others on LinkedIn.
“I am by no means an expert at these transitions, but I’ve always tried to be consistent in how I run, exit and begin in a new business. I thought I would share a few professional and personal insights which are helping me adapt to a new sector, culture and country. (Silicon Valley can feel like a country unto itself!),” writes Apple's new retail boss.
“First: ‘Stay in your lane.’ You’ve been hired because you bring a certain expertise to the team and the company. Try to resist putting additional or undue pressure on yourself trying to learn it all from day one. It's human nature to feel insecure about everything you ‘don't know.’ By staying focused on your core competencies you will be able to contribute much sooner, add greater value long term, and enjoy and have more peace especially in the early days.”
Recalling her father’s teachings, Mrs. Ahrendts advises those who are starting fresh to be bold and ask questions when faced with things they don’t know much about. It’s better to learn than to assume, she says, and it’s a good idea to know the people you’re working with on a very personal level.
“And don’t be afraid to ask personal questions or share a few of your personal details. Talking about weekend interests, family and friends can give you a more complete view of your peers and partners, their passion and compassion. Building a relationship is also the first step in building trust, which quickly leads towards alignment and unity.”
Like the company’s co-founder, Steve Jobs, Ahrendts feels deeply about trusting one’s instincts when knowledge about a subject is scarce or inaccessible.
“Also, trust your instincts and emotions. Let them guide you in every situation; they will not fail you. Never will your objectivity be as clear or your instincts sharper than in the first 30-90 days.”
She concludes outlining that first impressions matter, and that it’s not a flaw to be concerned about how others perceive you. If you’re going to overthink things, overthink that, says Ahrendts.