The First 100 Days
Accepting the Democratic nomination for President of the United States in 1932, in the midst of a global economic depression, Franklin Roosevelt promised:
Throughout the nation men and women, forgotten in the political philosophy of the Government, look to us here for guidance and for more equitable opportunity to share in the distribution of national wealth. . . . I pledge myself to a new deal for the American people. This is more than a political campaign. It is a call to arms.
On taking office, Roosevelt then committed to a remarkable series of new programmes to be delivered during the ‘first 100 days of the administration’. In setting himself this challenge, he consciously established a benchmark against which his performance could be judged.
He also unwittingly created a measure against which all future U.S. Presidents – and leaders everywhere – would be judged: that new leaders are given just 100 days in which to prove themselves, meaning that often the actions taken by a new leader during their first 100 days can largely determine whether they succeed or fail.
And in case this sound too abstract, remember every leader faces a succession of leadership transitions as they develop and grow their career. These transitions may initially be from team member to team leader, then from manager to functional head or from director to CEO. Other leadership transitions occur as leaders move between companies or even between industries. But as we will see a leader’s performance during this transition phase is vital, as all interested parties – friends and foes; supporters and detractors – will be watching for signs of long-term success or failure.
Over the next series of blogs, I’d like to examine the crucial importance of the “first 100 days” of a leader’s tenure in a new position, with a particular focus on why this initial period matters so much, and what steps a leader should take during this time to ensure longer-term success in their new role.
Hopefully people will contribute their own idea’s and experiences, so that we can all learn how to best approach this leadership challenge.