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First 30 Days Leadership

First 30 Days Leadership: Building Credibility and Identifying Opportunities



Introduction

Achieving early wins is crucial in establishing credibility and setting the stage for sustained success in your new leadership role. This chapter guides you through identifying, planning, and executing these early victories, augmented with examples from leaders who have excelled and expert insights on navigating these challenges effectively.



Your first 30 days


Objective: Establish a foundation of trust and outline potential quick wins.

Understanding Your Environment: Begin by deeply understanding your new organisation’s culture, systems, and team dynamics. Pay close attention to the company's existing challenges and long-term goals. Faced with a stagnating giant at Microsoft, Satya Nadella focused on shifting the Company’s focus towards cloud computing and mobile technologies. He acknowledged the decline in traditional PC sales. His approach revitalised the company’s product line and led to a significant increase in market value.


Building Relationships: Forge key relationships with stakeholders, peers, and your team. Focus on creating a network of support that will help you identify and leverage quick wins.


"Leadership is less about the love of power and more about the power of love."

— Simon Sinek —


This underscores the importance of building genuine connections to foster a supportive work environment.


Assess your Team: Evaluate your team's strengths and weaknesses. This may involve reviewing past performance data, understanding individual capabilities, and determining how well the team works together. After returning to Apple in 1997, Steve Jobs assessed the company's talent and streamlined the team to focus on fewer projects, which were crucial in turning the company around.


A man dressed in blue standing in front of a mixed team, grouped together behind a row of tables. They stand in front of a window.
Motivating Your Team

Set Clear Expectations: Communicate your expectations and management style to avoid misunderstandings. This helps in setting a clear direction and establishing accountability from the start. Jeff Bezos is known for his high standards and clear expectations, which are encapsulated in Amazon's leadership principles. These principles guide how Amazon leaders operate and make decisions.

 

Listen Actively: Spend more time listening than talking. This helps you gather insights and understand the nuances of your new environment. Active listening can also help identify hidden challenges and opportunities. Mary Barra (General Motors) emphasises the importance of listening to her team and customers, which has been central to her approach to leading GM through innovation and change.


Identifying Quick Wins: Look for projects or areas where improvements can be made swiftly and effectively. These areas should align with your organisation’s long-term goals and can be achieved relatively quickly to demonstrate your impact. When Alan Mulally took over as CEO of Ford Motor Company, he implemented a series of quick wins, such as improving quality and reducing complexity, which helped stabilise Ford and gain immediate financial improvements.


Develop a Strategic Vision: Start formulating a strategic vision based on your understanding of the company's goals, challenges, and market conditions. This vision should guide your actions and decisions from now on. Elon Musk is well-known for his futuristic vision, which includes significant innovations in electric vehicles, space travel, and renewable energy, consistently pushing his companies towards these ambitious goals


Communicate Effectively: Keep communication channels open and transparent. Regular updates and feedback sessions can help maintain clarity and engagement among your team and stakeholders. Howard Schultz's return as CEO of Starbucks was marked by open letters to employees and the public, through which he communicated his strategic vision and changes, helping to rejuvenate the Starbucks brand.


Prioritise Learning: Take time to learn about the industry, the company's products or services, and the competitive landscape. This ongoing learning is crucial for making informed decisions. Warren Buffett (Berskhire Hathaway) is a lifelong learner whose investment decisions are deeply rooted in continuous reading and understanding of company operations, market dynamics, and economic principles.


Seek Feedback: Regularly seek feedback on your approach and decisions. This can provide valuable insights into how well you are adapting and what adjustments might be necessary. Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook) has been vocal about the importance of feedback in personal and professional growth, encouraging it both within her teams at Facebook and in her writings and public speeches.


Interactive Checklist: Identifying Opportunities for Early Wins

      🔲 Review the most recent company performance reports.

      🔲 Meet with key team members to gather insights and suggestions.

      🔲 Identify underperforming areas that can benefit from quick improvements.

      🔲 Align potential projects with strategic company goals.

 


Maintaining Personal Vitality and Family Time


Objective: Manage your energy and preserve work-life balance to maintain effectiveness.


Prioritising Health and Well-being: Establish routines that include regular physical activity, adequate sleep, and healthy eating. Maintaining your physical health is essential for sustaining the mental and emotional stamina required for leadership. Dr. Rajita Sinha, an expert on stress and leadership, suggests, "Effective leaders know the importance of stress management and its role in maintaining clear decision-making and creativity."


Two legs. One stepping on a yellow and black striped bar. The other leg standing on the floor. The legs are dressed with sneakers and jeans.
What is your limit?

Setting Boundaries: Be deliberate about setting boundaries between work and personal life. This might mean having specific times when you are unreachable by work, ensuring you can give undivided attention to family and personal activities. Jeff Weiner, Former CEO of LinkedIn, famously blocked out time for personal reflection and family, which he considered crucial for maintaining his overall effectiveness as a leader. His approach demonstrates the value of 'protected time' for personal activities.


Leveraging Time Management: Efficiently manage your time by delegating tasks when appropriate and using tools and strategies to prioritise your workload. This helps ensure you're not consistently working overtime and allows you to maintain a presence in your friends and family's personal lives. Introduce a diagram that helps you visualise how to prioritise tasks based on urgency and importance, guiding them to delegate or defer as needed.



Conclusion

Securing early wins and maintaining personal vitality are both crucial for long-term success. Leaders can cultivate a sustainable and fulfilling career by combining strategic professional initiatives with dedicated personal time. Remember, effective leadership is as much about managing oneself as it is about managing others. Take care of your first 30 days of leadership in your new role.



The First 100 Days series is temporary available on: https://www.georgebegemann.com/blog

 

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