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06.13.08

How to Survive the First 100 Days As the New Boss

The New Boss
The New Boss: How to Survive the First 100 Days by Peter Fischer is a practical how-to guide to help leaders avoid typical mistakes and pitfalls and provides a proven framework and systematic approach to managing leadership transitions. While not all of the material is new, it is a welcome and fresh perspective and contains relevant examples of dos and don’ts of successful leadership transitions. Fischer’s process is well thought out and easily adapted to your new role.

The chart below gives a brief overview of the issues addressed here.

Executives Who Make
Transitions Successfully
Executive Who Are Less
Successful in Transitions
  • Possess superior knowledge and familiarity with the field and readily distinguish between what is important and what is not

  • Recognize and develop key relationships, deal adroitly with hidden rivals and predecessors, build networks in the organization, and show that they are team-oriented

  • Know how to group the many issues and problems into a vision and to motivate the employees

  • Communicate with senior management on strategy and style of leadership

  • Have knowledge about the process of changing leadership and impart confidence and trust because they can assess developments
  • Often come from outside the field and take too long to get their bearings

  • Focus too much on the tasks to be accomplished, neglect the development of working relations built on trust, and tend to prefer to work things out alone

  • Pursue too many approaches at the same time without a persuasive strategy and focus on eliminating weak points

  • Accept unclear expectations from senior management

  • Are too easily surprised, concentrate only on changes and thereby neglect the employees’ need for stability and security


Fischer also cites John Gabarro’s work (The Dynamics of Taking Charge / HBSP / 1987) in this area. Gabarro notes that a crucial factor distinguishing successful from less successful leaders in a new positions was the relationship to key people. In his studies, 75% who were not successful in their new roles after 12 months had poor working relations with their key employees. They had conflicts over objectives, leadership style, and the criteria of effective performance.

I mention this in particular as this seems to me to be the most common reason new leaders are asked to move along before they really get anything done. The temptation is to go in “full boor” and show them what you know. After all that’s why they hired you. Right? But if you can’t get along and gain the trust and cooperation from the people and culture you are moving into, your competence won’t matter. Focus on the people first.

Also check out: The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels by Michael Watkins

Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:55 AM
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