Congratulations! You’re starting into a new leadership position. You’ve cast aside the security blanket of your previous assignment. You’ve survived the emotional fits and starts of the hiring process. Now, brimming with confidence, you arrive for the first day of work secure in the knowledge that of all the candidates, you were the one who was identified as having the right combination of skills and attitude for the position.
But lingering in the back of your mind are the inevitable questions about whether you made the right move, whether your contribution will be valued, and whether the reality of the new position will live up to its expectations.
How you channel those hopes, dreams and doubts in the first ninety days will set the tone and tenor of your tenure with your new organization. You have a limited window of opportunity to create a sustainable advantage for “brand you”.
And we are here to help! Our next several posts will provide a friendly guide to mastering your first ninety days in a new leadership position.
There is no magic formula that will assure a smooth honeymoon. No genetic code governing inter-organizational relationships. But the following steps can help you make the most of your new opportunity.
Let’s start by considering the three most important questions to ask when you take up a new role.
How are you perceived by subordinates? Possibly the most startling realization, especially for those who are new to leadership positions (or who have been newly elevated above people who had been peers), is the new way in which they are regarded by those they lead. When leaders walk into a room, conversations often cease. They may no longer be invited to participate in activities with those who were once peers and friends. That’s not because of anything personal to you. That’s because you now wear a big ‘hat’ of authority, and people can no longer look at you without seeing your hat. And especially for those who, in their past story, had difficulty with authority figures, the perception of you in your new role can be extremely skewed. Bear this in mind, principally with those who inordinately praise you or disapprove of you.
How do you see yourself as different from your predecessor? Take some time to figure out exactly how your predecessor was ‘wired,’ how she actually carried on the functions prescribed, and how she was perceived by the organization. Then think about your own profile. How are you ‘wired?’ How will this effect the organization that you now lead? Keep in mind that people will often regard and handle you the way your predecessor was regarded and treated. Again, that’s not because of you personally, but what the status quo demands to continue functioning (for better or worse) smoothly.
What legacy do you want to leave behind when you depart? It’s never too early to begin to think about your legacy. This will take you to the ‘end game,’ what you hope to leave in place to make this organization a better organization.
Asking the right questions is a great start – but it’s not the whole ball game. Next, we’ll consider the major internal and external challenges you are likely to face.