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Secure Early Wins

Updated: May 14


Gaining early wins is critical in establishing your credibility and setting the stage for long-term success in your new leadership role. This chapter will guide you on identifying, planning, and executing these early victories, with examples from leaders who have excelled in their first days.

The First 30 Days: Building Credibility and Identifying Opportunities

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 attention to the company's existing challenges and long-term goals.

Example: Satya Nadella at Microsoft focused on understanding the company's core strengths and shifted its focus towards cloud computing and mobile technologies, recognising the decline in traditional PC sales.

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.

Example: Anne Mulcahy at Xerox spent her initial days visiting every branch and meeting employees to build relationships and gather support for the forthcoming strategic changes.

Identifying Early Wins: Look for projects or areas where improvements can be made swiftly and effectively. These should be areas that align with the organisation’s long-term goals and can be achieved relatively quickly to demonstrate your impact.

Example: Alan Mulally at Ford Motor Company identified the Quick Lane service as an early win that could be expanded quickly, enhancing customer satisfaction and dealership profitability.

Person with a backpack climbing stairs as like you do within your career

The Next 30 Days: Planning and Implementing Changes

Objective: Develop and begin executing a plan for achieving early wins.

Strategic Planning: With a solid understanding of the organisation’s needs and the early wins identified, formulate a detailed plan that targets these opportunities. Ensure that these plans are scalable and can lead to long-term benefits.

Example: Tim Cook at Apple Inc. strategically launched the iPhone 4S, his first major product launch that included the innovative Siri feature, reinforcing Apple’s market position and his capability as a leader.

Launching Initiatives: Start the projects that promise quick wins. These should be initiatives that not only resolve immediate issues but also lay the groundwork for your long-term strategic goals.

Example: Marissa Mayer at Yahoo initiated a series of acquisitions, including Tumblr, to rapidly bring fresh talent and technology into the company.

Measuring Success: Establish metrics to measure the success of your early initiatives. Quick wins are not just about changing processes but also about gaining buy-in and setting a precedent for your leadership style.

Example: Elon Musk's launch of the Tesla Roadster demonstrated his commitment to innovation and garnered significant media attention and investor interest.

The Last 30 Days: Consolidating Gains and Planning Next Steps

Objective: Review the impact of early wins and plan for sustained success.

  1. Evaluating Impact: Assess the outcomes of your early initiatives. How have they helped improve the organisation, and what has been the response from your team and peers?

  2. Building on Success: Use the momentum gained from early wins to address more complex, long-term issues within the organisation. Start integrating more significant changes that align with your strategic vision.

  3. Communicating Progress: Keep your team and stakeholders informed about what has been achieved and what is planned next. Effective communication will ensure continued support and enthusiasm for your initiatives.


Maintaining Personal Vitality and Family Time

A set of family and friends sitting as table enjoying their free time.
Maintaining Your Balance

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.

Example: Indra Nooyi, former CEO of PepsiCo, emphasised the importance of work-life balance and often spoke about how she managed to schedule personal time for yoga and family, which she credited for her high energy and focus at work.

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.

For example, Jeff Weiner, the 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.

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.

Encouraging a Team Culture of Balance: Lead by example by promoting a culture of balance within your team. Encourage your team members to take their leave, respect their off-hours, and support their pursuit of a balanced life.

Example: Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's COO, advocated leaving the office at 5:30 PM to spend time with her children, setting an example that it’s possible to be committed both at work and at home.


Securing early wins and maintaining personal vitality are both crucial for long-term success. As a leader, your ability to manage both professional challenges and personal well-being sets the tone for your tenure and models expected behaviours for your team. By achieving balance, you ensure that you are both effective and sustainable in your leadership role.



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