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Taking Charge:  The Next 200 Days

Glenn Kaufman

Reviewed by Glenn Kaufman on Mar. 30, 2015 in

So you’ve settled in, formed your team, and tackled some issues during your first 100 days. You are feeling like you are starting to get a sense for how the organization works and you have begun to build key relationships.  You may also be thinking that your on boarding is complete, and that you have already earned the right to be a leader in this organization.  Well, you might want to think again.

While those first 100 days were critical, and the honeymoon may have ended nicely, you have now entered the next phase of your leadership journey.  What are some characteristics of this trip?  First you should keep your seatbelt fastened because you haven’t landed yet; you’ve merely taken off.  Proving yourself takes longer than 90 days and the criteria for doing so vary by organization.  One luxury goods company we know wouldn’t even allow you to make a “big” decision until at least six months have passed- and that went for a new CEO as well. The reason is obvious: they don’t consider leaders ready to influence major events until they have mastered a critical mass of information about their company, and they know that this is impossible to do in only a few months.

What you can do, however, is demonstrate a voracious thirst for understanding products, markets, operations, etc. by framing your findings as hypotheses and hunches that you want to test out with various stakeholders.  This has the added advantage of helping you learn how different people see the issues and how various perspectives frame them in this company.  By opening your comments with phrases like, “Here is what I am seeing/hearing/finding about xyz…” you will create dialog and get valuable feedback that can serve as pieces of the organizational puzzle.  Further, you will build credibility by demonstrating that you are wiling to learn and not someone who already knows it all- even if you really have “mastered” the organization rather quickly.

Even when you do need to weigh-in on an issue or make a key decision, using framing like, “Based on xyz information, I recommend that we…” will show how you arrived at your conclusion and doesn’t present it as closed off to additional dialog. 

Leaders are granted the right to lead by those who follow. Sure, you may have positional power to call the shots, but in the beginning, your followers (and the grapevine) will be watching and grading you by how you engage them by balancing telling, selling, and compelling. Give yourself a fighting chance by gracefully transitioning from new hire to leader, and earn your stripes one line at a time.


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