The decisions and actions you take in your first 90 days in a new leadership role will largely determine whether you succeed or fail in the role. Especially when the stakes are high.
Your transition success creates vision, opportunity and significance for others. Judgments about you and your leadership will be made early. Therefore adapting to your new environment and being agile to navigate through it are critical.
So what’s the approach you’re going to take in your next transition?
Going it alone is risky
Your organisation may have a formal onboarding or orientation program, but if you’re like most leaders, you may also be left to ‘sink or swim’ where you’re expected to just get on with it.
Leaders who rely on what they’ve always done to serve them in a new role run the risk of underestimating the steep learning curve or business demands. The statistics show that approximately 40% of executives who change jobs or get promoted fail in the first 18 months(Forbes 2012).
Get the edge with a formal transition plan
Arming yourself with structured transition game plan that focuses your thinking, planning and actions during your first few months is a smart move. Why do this? 1) to position yourself as high potential talent who is a value add to your organisation in half the normal time; 2) to achieve in 90 days what normally takes 6 to 12 months; and 3) to model what is widely considered the global best practice transition approach. The real accelerator though comes with a transition coach who’s invested in your success.
Your 90 Day Plan should be built from 2 key leadership building blocks.
Your leadership effectiveness begins with you.
- Knowing your values and the values of your organisation. Leading from your leadership value set can set you apart when you make a stand for what others believe in.
- Creating a vision for your role that excites you and brings others with you
- Discovering your leadership character based on the change you’ll lead
- Understanding how to adapt your leadership style based on your business situation
- Defining your leadership standards that will set performance benchmarks in your team and across your organisation depending on your role
- Aligning to the culture and politics as a function of your attitude and behaviours
- Managing your ego (every leader has one) so that it doesn’t trip you up. Leadership is not about control, power, being right and looking good.
Starting a new leadership role often means being bombarded with information, fire fighting, and requests for your time and attention. Some key parts of your strategy will include:
- Understanding expectations and negotiating your success when the time is right
- Setting a clear direction with the right goals and milestones at key juncture points in your transition (@30, 60, 90 days). You’ll keep your focus on your vision and not be distracted off your main game.
- Focusing your attention to accelerate your learning curve and balance your time.
- Developing a communications strategy for clear, compelling and consistent communication up, down and sideways across your organisation.
- Identifying the right quick wins to pursue to get some early runs on the board. This move will earn you the right to lead from the front and help you align early on the next steps of your change agenda.
First 90 day success stories
Case studies outlining success achieved from having a structured transition plan matched the business situation show incremental performance and results in areas such as: strategic orientation, complex negotiating, building teams, accelerating financial performance, winning deals, overcoming cultural dynamics, communication effectiveness, team synergies and people alignment.
In other developed economies, such as the USA, UK, and Canada, 90 day plans are now part of everyday success. The opportunity is yours to leverage best practice and apply it to your career.
When you successfully navigate through new role transitions you’ll learn vital lessons, you’ll have greater flexibility and adaptability, and stronger leadership capability. With each transition, you need to create a mindset and adapt your skills and strategy to face a fresh set of challenges and opportunities. A 90 day plan is leadership development in action if you want to leverage the 90 day window to your advantage.
So the question again, what’s your transition story going to be? What approach are you going to take in your first 90 days? How are you going to impact, influence and inspire from the get go?