Summary of The First 90 Days

Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels

Harvard Business Review Press, more...

The First 90 Days book summary
Your first 90 days as a new leader can make or break you. Here's how to be sure your first three months aren't your last.


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10 Applicability

8 Innovation

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Michael Watkins – strategy consultant and professor at the European business school INSEAD – provides a brief but thorough guide for adapting quickly and smoothly to a new office and fresh responsibilities. He details the four basic situations that may surround and shape a new leadership role. In a start-up environment – whether at a fledgling company or a new department in an established firm – new leaders cannot rely on pre-existing processes and must make creative decisions via trial and error. In a turnaround situation, they must act fast to salvage resources while carefully managing employees’ anxieties. During realignments, leaders must exercise caution and initially focus on learning rather than acting boldly. Leaders hired to sustain an already successful department or venture should employ a more defensive strategy, protecting the unit’s proven strengths while exploring new opportunities. To adapt quickly to a new leadership role, diagnose your situation within the context of the firm’s history, culture and position in the business cycle. Move fast; building credibility requires constructing an action plan for the first 90 days and shoring up your position with a series of small successes. Establish working relationships with critical staffers and manage your superiors’ expectations. Find out what the boss needs and attune your strategy to his or her communication preferences and working style. Watkins advises setting out as you wish to continue, in that the way you introduce yourself as a leader will set the tone for your long-term goals and career trajectory. New leaders rise on their merits, but must break from the past when they arrive. Offering clear guidance grounded in myriad realities a new leader faces, Watkins provides a valuable resource for the crucial transitional period a new leader endures. His lessons apply to managers with shifting duties at any level. Given that promotion inevitably entails transition, getAbstract believes new leaders shouldn’t enter that executive suite without this manual for confronting the challenges ahead.

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