Leadership is about inspiring and enabling others to do their absolute best, together, to realize a meaningful and rewarding shared purpose. The strongest leaders take a BRAVE approach to every one of their New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plans by examining their organization’s behaviors, relationships, attitudes, values and environment. Looking at the components in reverse order:
One of the most important choices you make as a leader is deciding where to play. Zappos’ Tony Hsieh likened this process to playing at a poker tournament. "My big ‘ah-ha!’ moment came when I finally learned that the game started even before I sat down in a seat."
As a leader, you must also understand the context in which you’re operating – as did Toll Brothers’ Doug Yearley – and interpret and create context for others. Take into account the overall situation, the organization's history, and its recent results. Today’s environment is fraught with danger, so make sure you understand all the risks and opportunities both outside and inside your organization.
Choose where to play.
We’ve been running CEO “boot camps” since 2005. Virtually every long-serving CEO who has addressed the group agrees that the number one job of a CEO is to own and drive the company’s vision and values. Remember, happiness is good. For most people this involves a combination of doing good for others, doing good for themselves and doing things they are good at.
It is imperative for you as a leader to define the value you will create and the principles you will follow to get there. Consider how A&P’s Sam Martin led the organization through a substantial turnaround and how True Value’s Lyle Heidemann changed the organization’s culture.
Know what matters.
Strategy is about choices. You must decide how you are going to win, where you are going to focus your efforts, and where you are not going to focus. Marry that with the appropriate posture and message. Domination a la Jeff Immelt and GE requires a long-term view and ongoing discipline. Success in a niche like Tony McDowell and Finch Paper requires flexibility. Innovating like Steve Jobs and Apple requires a relentless passion to keep one step ahead of everyone – on a continual basis.
This is one of the big choices IBM’s Virginia Rometty faces as she moves into the CEO role.
Decide how you are going to win.
Everything you do or don’t say, act on, listen to and observe communicates, 24/7, forever. Like WNET’s Neal Shapiro, you can choose a single, simplifying message purposefully and leverage it in all your communication, strengthening relationships along the way. Or you can let people interpret and misinterpret things as they see fit. The Red Cross’s Charley Shimanski does this as well as any, striving to make people feel proud through his words and his actions, being, living, and communicating his story.
Connect with others.
Environment, values, attitude and relationships all inform behaviors. Like P&G’s John Pepper (pictured), you lead with your feet, with what you do, more than with what you say. Leaders are defined by their followers. By definition, the only way for you to achieve your vision, in line with your values, in the context you choose, is through the attitude, relationships and behaviors you engender in your followers – as they follow your model. It’s not about you. It’s about them.
Drive to impact.
Five questions to help you think through the five components:
- Where play?
- What matters?
- How win?
- How connect?
- What impact?
The New Leader's Playbook
In some ways, this is the essence of step 1 of The New Leader’s Playbook: Position Yourself for Success
There are several components of this including positioning yourself for a leadership role, selling before you buy, mapping and avoiding the most common land mines, uncovering hidden risks in the organization, role, and fit, and choosing the right approach for your transition type.
In other ways, it is the underlying framework for all the steps of the playbook – and for how the best leaders lead, whether or not they explicitly follow the steps.
Many of the links above route into one of my weekly New Leader's Playbook columns on Forbes.com