The New Leader’s Playbook

Moving into new roles are crucible events of leadership and some of the toughest challenges people face. Nearly half of new leaders fail in their first 18 months*. Avoid that problem by getting a head start, managing your message, and building your team. Further, know that while people will follow a charismatic leader for a time, they will devote themselves to the cause of a BRAVE leader over time. Those are the underlying premises of this note which itself serves as an overall executive summary of The New Leader's Playbook articles originally published on Forbes.com since February 2011 and woven through two of our books: The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan and First-Time Leader.

Click here for a free executive summary of The New Leader's 100-Day Action Plan book.      First-Time LeaderNL100DAP3e Cover

Click here for a free executive summary of the First-Time Leader book. (Click here for both.)

Our publisher, Wiley, suggested that The New Leader’s Playbook could be printed as traditional book. They said there is a body of knowledge here that can help others accelerate their onboarding and strengthen their own leadership. The choice we’ve made so far is to keep it as a living, ever-evolving thing. At this point, that thing includes over 200 articles and over 150,000 words. It’s too much to read at a sitting. Hence this note – in two parts:

Part I is an executive summary of the main, driving concepts (with links to sections in part II)

Part II is a full list of all the articles in The New Leader’s Playbook sorted by those concepts as much as possible and then from most important to merely interesting. Each entry links to the article on Forbes so you can read more. Then each article on Forbes links back to this page so you can put that article in context and read further.

Part I – Executive Summary

BRAVE LEADERSHIP

Webster defines "brave" as having or showing courage – the mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty. BRAVE is also an acronym for Behaviors, Relationships, Attitudes, Values, and Environment, which together form a framework for brave leadership.

In brief, building from the outside in:

Environment is about the context for your leadership, the change you must respond to, the danger, fear or difficulty into which you and your team must venture, persevere, and withstand. Ask the question, "where to play?" taking into account the business environment, organizational history, and recent results as you drive to clear choices.

Values get at what matters most to you and to your followers. You're going to respond and adapt to the ever-changing world around you; but to what end? Ask "what matters and why?" to get at your purpose and principles.

Attitude involves the choices you make about strategy, posture, and approach. This is the pivot between the environment and values, and relationships and behaviors. Get specific about the answer to the question "how to win?"

Relationships are what happens when you connect with people. Get clear on your message. Then think through how you're going to communicate that message. You can't communicate anything until you connect. So ask "how to connect?"

Behaviors are where the rubber meets the road. Assess your environment, get clear on your values, choose your attitude, build relationships on the way to behaving and driving those few behaviors that will make a meaningful and rewarding impact others. Ask "what impact?" to frame what you do and why.

Net, BRAVE leadership is not about you as the leader. It's about inspiring and enabling others. Apply this framework to your team, remembering that you must lead differently as your team grows.

Questions to consider:

Prelude – Get a head start: Where to play? What matters and why? How to win?

Moment of impact – Manage the message: How to connect?

Follow through – Build the team: What impact?

Prelude: GET A HEAD START

1) Position yourself for success. Start by connecting your values and goals, strengths and communication. Know yourself. Know your audience. Know and deliver your message in your own voice. Leadership is personal. Your message is the key that unlocks personal connections. The greater the congruence between your own values, attitudes, behaviors, the environment you create, and the way you relate to other individuals, the stronger those connections will be. This is why the best messages aren’t crafted; they emerge.  Great leaders live their messages not because they can, but because they must. As Martin Luther said at the Diet of Worms in 1521,“Here I stand, I can do no other.”

2) Choose the Right Approach for the Business Context and Culture you Face. Context is a function of the business environment, organizational history and recent business performance, informing the relative importance and urgency of change. Culture underpins “the way we do things here” and is made up of Behaviors, Relationships, Attitudes, Values, and the Environment feeding into readiness for change. Crossing context and culture helps you decide whether to Assimilate, Converge and Evolve (fast or slow), or Shock. Choose your way. Then map contributors, detractors, and convincible watchers so you can move each of them one step by altering their balance of consequences.

3) Embrace and Leverage the Fuzzy Front End Before Day One. The time between acceptance and start is a gift you can use to rest and relax or to get a head start on your new role or next 100-days. Our experience has shown that those who use this fuzzy front end to put a plan in place, complete their pre-start preparation, and jump-start learning and relationships are far more likely to deliver better results faster than those who choose to rest and relax. Five important steps:

  1. Identify the most important stakeholders up, across, and down – both inside and out.
  2. Plan your message, fuzzy front end, and first or next 100-days.
  3. Manage your personal setup so you have less to worry about after you start.
  4. Conduct pre-start meetings and phone calls to jump-start important relationships.
  5. Gather information and learning in advance to jump-start learning.

Moments of Impact: MANAGE THE MESSAGE

4) Take Control of Day One: Make a Powerful First Impression. Everything is magnified on Day One, whether it’s your first day in a new company, or the day of a big announcement. Everyone is looking for hints about what you think and what you’re going to do. This is why it’s so important to seed your message by paying particular attention to all the signs, symbols, and stories you deploy, and the order in which you deploy them. Make sure people are seeing and hearing things that will lead them to believe and feel what you want them to believe and feel about you and about themselves in relation to the future of the organization.

5) Motivate and Focus Your Team with Ongoing Communications (including social media). Where the emphasis used to be on logical, sequential, targeted, ongoing communication campaigns, the communication revolution has made it essential to manage multiple, concurrent, ever-evolving conversations across an ever-changing network of stakeholders. Leverage your core message as the foundation for those conversations by seeding and reinforcing communication points through a wide variety of media with no compromises on trustworthiness and authenticity. 

Follow-through: BUILD THE TEAM

6) Embed a Burning Imperative. The burning imperative is a sharply defined, intensely shared, and purposefully urgent understanding from each of the team members of what they are “supposed to do, now.” Get this created and bought into early on—even if it’s only 90 percent right. You, and the team, will adjust and improve along the way.

7) Exploit Key Milestones to Drive Team Performance. Milestones map and track what is getting done by when by whom. Leaders of high-performing teams take that basic tool to a whole new level, exploiting it to inspire and enable people to work together as a team!

8) Over-invest in Early Wins to Build Team Confidence. Early wins are all about credibility and confidence. People have more faith in people who have delivered. You want your boss to have confidence in you. You want team members to have confidence in you, in themselves, and in the plan for change that has emerged. Early wins fuel that confidence.

9) Secure ADEPT People in the Right Roles and Deal with Inevitable Resistance. Acquire, Develop, Encourage, Plan, and Transition talent to strengthen the team over time:

  • Acquire: Recruit, attract, and onboard the right people
  • Develop: Assess and build skills and knowledge
  • Encourage: Direct, support, recognize, and reward
  • Plan: Monitor, assess, plan career moves over time
  • Transition: Migrate to different roles as appropriate

10) Evolve People, Plans, and Practices to Capitalize on Changing Circumstances. By the end of your first or next 100-Days, you should have made significant steps toward aligning your people, plans, and practices around a shared purpose. Remember, this is not a one-time event but, instead, something that will require constant, ongoing management and Darwinian improvement because we're all new leaders all the time.

*As Anne Fisher pointed out in New job?  Get a head start now – Fortune, 17-February, 2012, the failure rate for new executives "research shows has stood at about 40% for at least 15 years now" – "About 40% of executives who change jobs or get promoted fail in the first 18 months".  (In contrast, over 90% of the executives PrimeGenesis has helped since 2003 were either still in place or promoted at the 18-month point.)


Part II – Full list of New Leader's Playbook articles

BRAVE Leadership

Where to play?

What matters and why?

How to win?

How to connect?

What impact?

Prelude: GET A HEAD START

1) Position yourself for success.

2) Choose the Right Approach for the Business Context and Culture you Face.

3) Embrace and Leverage the Fuzzy Front End Before Day One.

Moments of Impact: MANAGE THE MESSAGE

4) Take Control of Day One: Make a Powerful First Impression. 

5) Motivate and Focus Your Team with Ongoing Communications (including social media). 

Follow-through: BUILD THE TEAM

6) Embed a Burning Imperative.

7) Exploit Key Milestones to Drive Team Performance.

8) Over-invest in Early Wins to Build Team Confidence.

9) Secure ADEPT People in the Right Roles and Deal with Inevitable Resistance.

10) Evolve People, Plans, and Practices to Capitalize on Changing Circumstances.

Extra: Put it all together

Extra: For Acquisitions

Leader's Perspective Articles:

Click here for a free executive summary of The New Leader's 100-Day Action Plan book.      First-Time LeaderNL100DAP3e Cover

Click here for a free executive summary of the First-Time Leader book. (Click here for both.)

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Comments

  1. New Leader's Playbook: BRAVE - great insight for a new breed of leaders … Refreshing

  2. RJ Lennon says:

    Great reading and advice.  I loved the supporting references…Definitely worth the investment to read, internalize and apply.  THANKS FOR SHARING…rj

  3. mengyuan says:

    ddddd

  4. Jacob Moody says:

    Any tips for working class to move in to the Excutive job position?

  5. Michel Moravia says:

    Excellent article"..highly recommended!

  6. Great information, just your bullete points gave me some great ideas. I may just have to buy the book.   Keep up the great posts.
     
    thanks, Will

  7. More Info says:

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    people think. Also, many thanks for allowing me to comment!

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