article reflects the personal views of the author)
time ago, I got a call from a fine professional and friend who was just
appointed as the CEO of a large enterprise. Even as I congratulated him, he
posed a question he was grappling with: What should I be focusing on in the
first 100 days?
indeed is a query that applies to all key leadership transitions, especially
the CEO incumbent. The initial breaking-in period will significantly impact how
successful the leader would be, since ambiguity multiplies exponentially,
higher the position of transition. What brought you till here may be
insufficient to take you where you intend to go. Here are a few thoughts that
you could convert into action.
first thing that would strike a new incumbent is that there may not be a formal
on-boarding plan, especially given that you are the CEO. To begin with, you
have to get down to crafting your own plan. Ensure you have a great executive
assistant, as this person would be your window to the world and a shield where
necessary. Make your own control button list of key metrics, arising out of the
thoughts shared below, to prepare a daily must-do monitor for your first 100
days. Expand the list as you gain deeper insights with every experience within.
buck doesn't stop with you
as it seems, even as the CEO, you are not the boss! You indeed have a board to
report to. Gaining the confidence of the board, knowing where you stand, and
being clear on the delineation of roles and responsibilities between the board
and the management are essential dynamics for decision-making. You are lonely
at the top; develop your own advisory network to provide guidance and support.
Friendly independent directors and CEOs, who you know well, can be ideal
choices for your sounding board.
move you make is a message to the world around you, as you have moved from
derived power to direct power.
words, mannerisms, values, style, actions and expectations all are under
scrutiny. The team would be trying to anticipate your likes and dislikes, which
could heighten or distort reality if you are not cognizant. Do recognise the
need to be open and transparent; communicate your vision, beliefs and
expectations and reflect them in the consistency of your conversations and
actions. You have to clearly define the way forward and help drive a shared
vision to enable overall commitment.
the balancing act
is likely that even as you have been vested with the coveted position, there
may have been other contenders, quite capable. You are their leader now, and
gaining their commitment and not just compliance would be important. Take the
initiative, gain their confidence, express your support and carry them along.
Resist the temptation to spend much of your time in your former zone of
comfort, as you now head all functions, not just one. Find a balanced approach
to learn the other functions and interconnections quickly. Revenue-generating
functions of course need urgent attention. Know all your stakeholders too and
provide for time to address all the constituents.
engage, and engage. Plan to visit all critical locations early, prioritize the
list, and reach out. Use your presence to identify and champion some key
initiatives which will augur well to reinforce the road map you are laying out.
It is imperative to meet your key customers early for you to get a personal
feel of the space you serve. Being amidst customers is an affirmation of
continuity of organizational commitment and serves an assurance that you value
them as vital partners of your enterprise.
in sync with your team
as the CEO, you are only as good as the team you have. Know the strength of the
pyramid that you sit on, and quickly so. Map your stars in the company by
examining the five-year performance track of all managers. Prepare your
high-performer list and meet as many as you can with a well-planned engagement
calendar. Listen to them, share your thoughts, set your expectations and
declare your desire to co-create the future. Your single biggest asset needs to
be nurtured by you, and your people focus will pay dividends.
is the summation of many small victories. A journey begun well augurs well, and
as William Blake eloquently observed, we must endeavor: "to see a world in
a grain of sand, a heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your
hand, and eternity in an hour." Hope you have an enriching tenure ahead.
Originally published in the Economic Times, dated 24th April, 2012,
the Economic Times Bureau.
About the Author:
The writer is a partner and global leader of the people
and organisation practice of Ernst & Young
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