Whether you’re a new CEO, a new team leader, or the President of the U.S., the pressure to descend from the mountain and present the Tablets of Truth can be overwhelming. It is also a trap. The first thing you ought to do if you’re the new person in charge is nothing!
Resist the temptation to ‘Hit The Ground Running.’ It is almost certain to be wrong. One, you don’t know as much as you think you know. And if you start off by imposing your views on people, you’re not going to have what you most need when you most need it—namely, the commitment of the people you need to get the work done. A new leader is in a temporary state of incompetence. That goes even for insiders.9999
Your most important tool is an open and questioning mind and manner. It’s your one chance to ask stupid questions!
- What should I be thinking about that I wasn’t thinking about before I got this leadership position?
- What should I know that I might not have known before?
- What’s on your mind?
- What would you like the new leader to be doing?
EIGHT RULES (AN AGENDA F0R THE FIRST 100 DAYS)
LISTEN. Ask open-ended questions and force yourself to listen, really listen, to what they say. That means not talking.
RESIST THE SAVIOR SYNDROME. This is not the time to announce a bold new strategy or ‘vision.’
KEEP IT SIMPLE When people are deluged with long lists of priorities and action plans, their eyes glaze over and inaction reigns. But when they are given a couple of concrete priorities wrapped inside a clear and simple theme, they can move ahead with purpose, leaving room for individual imagination and experience to fill in the details.
HIT PAUSE. When posed with a good question wait a beat. If you don’t have the answer, promise to get back to them, and then do so.
LOOK FOR QUICK WINS. If you can find a few things that were serious flaws in the organization and fix them quickly, you can establish your credibility as a leader very fast.
SPELL IT OUT Use your early management meetings to do more than meet and greet; this is the time to establish what you expect of them, to communicate your management philosophy, and to set the tone—it’ll be hard to reset it later
DON’T DIS YOUR PREDECESSOR People forget that just about everyone who is there when the new leader arrives has worked for the old leader and probably has some loyalty to him or her.
GIVE FEEDBACK By synthesizing what you learn and communicating it to the organization, you give your workers an ownership stake in the new agenda and improve your chances for broad-based support.
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