Tips for Leaders in New Roles


You got the job! Take a day to celebrate but after that, it’s time to get to work. Your first 100 days can make or break your transition.

A new role means new responsibilities. To be successful at these means that you must give up some former responsibilities—even things you enjoy and do well. Let’s go, buckaroo!

Key elements to incorporate in your first 100 days

  1. Prepare yourself. You’re beginning a marathon, not a sprint.
  2. Listen and learn. When you’re talking, you’re not learning.
  3. Align expectations. What should people expect of you and what do you expect of them?
  4. Begin to shape your management team. You’re only as good as your team—and you need them more than ever.
  5. Craft a strategic agenda for growth and improvement. If this were the game of  Risk, where would you place your forces?
  6. Start transforming the culture. Culture eats strategy for lunch.
  7. Secure early—and low-threat, quick value—wins. Find the low-hanging fruit and grab it.
  8. Manage your boss and other senior stakeholders. Those who are removed from the action know only what someone tells them.
  9. Launch routines for communication and inspection. You get what you expect, measure, and reward.
  10. Keep your balance. Don’t let yourself tip over—we need you upright.

Key mistakes to avoid in your first 100 days

  1. Setting unrealistic expectations or moving too fast. Be a sailboat, not a motorboat.
  2. Making rash decisions or waiting too long to make decisions. Balance reflection with action, knowing that you will never have as much information as you would like.
  3. Being a know-it-all. You’re smart but not smarter than the combined intelligence of all the brains around you.
  4. Failing to let go of your past identity and successes. You need an open hand to take hold of new opportunities.
  5. Discouraging bad news. A system without feedback is by definition stupid, so open your feedback loop to the bad news as well as the good.
  6. Stifling dissent. You can’t deal with dissent that’s fomenting in the closet.
  7. Succumbing to the savior syndrome. Be a leader, not a savior.
  8. Misreading the true sources of power. WHAT HERE?
  9. Picking the wrong battles. Don’t fight a battle you can’t win, don’t avoid a battle you need to win.
  10. Dissing your predecessor. If you do this, those around you will know they cannot trust you to have their back.

*The role could be newly created or new to you. Either way counts as a new role.

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