I am starting a new series of posts pulled out of a book I recently read. The book was written by Michael Watkins and titled “The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels
“. The book is about enabling transitioning leader to reach the breakeven point (when leader contributed as much value to their organization as they have consumed from it) as rapidly as possible. The book comes with 4 propositions:
- Root causes of failures are when new leaders either misunderstand the essential demands of the situation or lack the skill and flexibility to adapt to them
- Matching strategy employed for a successful transition needs to be adapted on the situation
- New leaders need to build momentum early by creating virtuous cycles that build their credibility
- Transitions are a fundamental part of development of experiences needed for successful leaders and it should be managed accordingly
The backbone of the book is:
- Promote yourself
- Accelerate your learning
- Match strategy to situation
- Secure early wins
- Negotiate success
- Achieve alignment
- Build your team
- Create coalitions
- Keep your balance
- Expedite everyone
The first chapter of the book is about promoting yourself. It means preparing yourself mentally to move into your new role by letting go of the past and embracing the imperatives of the new situation to give yourself a running start.
- Establish a clear breakpoint: if you don’t get a clean transition (in terms of responsibility carried from your previous position), you need to discipline yourself to make the transition mentally. Accept to let go your old job and embracing the new one. Go into the transition state of mind.
- Hit the ground running: start planning what you hope to accomplish by specific milestones (first day, first week, first month, second month, and finally the third month mark).
- Assess your vulnerabilities and watch out for your strength: the qualities that have made you successful so far can prove to be weakness. Make a matrix of strength and weakness and define the implication for potential vulnerabilities in your new position.
Don’t avoid what you don’t like and don’t over commit to what you like.
- Relearn how to learn: be ready to learn a lot, it might evoke feeling of incompetence and vulnerability. Be ready to deal with them (everybody got them).
- Rework your network: as you are promoted it becomes increasingly important to get good political counsel and personal advice.
- Watch out for people who want to hold your back: Getting other to accept your promotion is an essential part of promoting yourself.
- Overcoming the Barriers: promoting yourself is a journey and not a destination. You will have to ensure you are engaging with the real challenges of your new position and not backsliding into comfortable habits.