First 100 Days: A Practitioners Approach
It is clear from my previous post that there are a relatively consistent set of actions that leaders have followed when transitioning into new roles and while they might not all be used in every situation, they can provide us with a template for taking on a new role.
Look, Listen, Learn: Talking to the management team was the primary source of information for all new leaders – listening to what people had to say and trying not to jump to any conclusions – iteration, synthesis and ‘triangulating the view’, i.e. continually presenting back and confirming what you’ve heard.
New leaders also ‘read themselves into a role’ reviewing plans, accounts, budgets, forecasts, in fact any available literature – also need to confirm the veracity of this information. Sometimes, the greatest learning comes from finding that certain reports are not available, or up to date.
Accelerate your learning: Identification of effective advisors was the primary mechanism by which new leaders gained understanding of their new environment ( new markets, products, technologies, systems, structures as well as culture and politics ). Advisors were both internal and external. Internally it was not only the management team but also by going down a level or two to find out ‘what is really going on?’ and finding people who were key influencers in their area – this normally equated to people who were trusted by others. Externally, briefings and meetings with customers and suppliers to get their view of the world – also in some cases with direct competitors.
Create Early Wins: The importance of early wins also emerged. Changes can be small, cultural in nature, or even simple commitments – so long as results are tangible and can be achieved relatively easily. However, they should be part of a plan, not reckless in any way and not simply ‘change for change sake’. It was also important to ensure that these early wins do not close down any paths or become ‘regret moves’ and generally are not necessarily suited for high priorities.
Quickly Build Relationships with ‘the boss’: Building this relationship was seen as critical and most individuals actively tried to build a rapport with their new boss and also tried to create ‘an alignment of expectations’ - it is just as important to enable others to develop a relationship with you.
Get the Right Team in Place: Many new leaders are faced with inherited management teams or unionised workplaces with little choice over personnel. In these cases the importance of understanding what you have inherited is paramount – it is vital to review the work histories of key players and understand what the ‘sacred cows’ are within the organisation. Regardless of limiting factors, most respondents felt it was important to get their desired structure in place as soon as feasible, and often new structure and roles were used as a mechanism to circumvent difficulties in relation to personnel changes or ‘trying to leverage internal experience and at the same time strengthen with external expertise’.
Get Communication Right: Transitional leaders were also very quick to get effective communication structures in place – many saw themselves in a state of constant communication ( verbal and non verbal ) and used every opportunity ‘to sell their message’.
Develop your Vision: All respondents also had a very clear ‘vision’ of where they wanted to take the organisation and in many cases created mental images of what they desired the future shape to be and communicated this vision to others, so that they could understand what part they would play in it.
Sharpen your Saw: Not surprisingly, many respondents actively worked on their leadership styles through a variety of approaches including executive coaching, extensive reading, feedback both from staff and superiors, and by selectively mimicking the behaviour of people they believe to be effective. Or, as one respondent put it, ‘shamelessly plagiarise any good idea’.
Transitional Leadership – The Practitioners’ Approach
So what about your own idea’s and experiences? do you agree with the steps above or are there others that you think would be beneficial to share?
Note: While this post can be read standalone, it is the fourth part of a ‘Transitional Theme’ and Part III can be found here.