The New Leader’s Playbook

We accelerate leaders and teams through complex transitions by helping create and implement 100-day action plans that jump start strategic, operational and organizational processes. Our clients deliver better results faster.  Learn more about our clients, our team, and how we can help leaders and teams succeed during executive onboarding, team onboarding and acceleration & restart transitions.

We share our ideas on transition acceleration, executive and team onboarding and leadership weekly on Forbes.com.

We have organized these articles in the categories we think about when it comes to successful transitions – we call this The New Leader’s Playbook.

You may also find our book, The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan, a useful guide.

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Get a Head Start

Position for Success

At its core, leadership is an exercise in culture change. It’s about creating and bridging gaps: gaps between you and your new team, gaps between reality and aspiration. Thus, positioning yourself for success as a leader must start with understanding your own cultural preferences and strengths in the context of potential opportunities. Then you should create options and do a real due diligence to mitigate organizational, role and fit landmines. (Go to these articles.)

Get to Work Before Day One

How you approach the time between accepting the job and before you start can have a massive impact on your success after you start. On the one hand, the approach is different if you’re joining a new company, getting promoted or transferred from within, crossing international boundaries or merging teams. On the other hand, the context and culture will inform your choice around whether to assimilate in slowly, converge and evolve or shock the organization with sudden changes. (Go to these articles.)

Manage the Message

Take Control of Day One

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 as the new leader think and what you’re going to do. You’re going to get positioned – either by others or by yourself. This is why it’s so important to 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. (Go to these articles.)

Activate Ongoing Communication

The prescription for communication during the time between Day One and co-creating a Burning Imperative is counter-intuitive and stressful for new leaders following this program. The fundamental approach is to converge and evolve. And the time before co-creating a Burning Imperative is all about converging. This means you can’t launch your full-blown communication efforts yet. You can’t stand up and tell people your new ideas. If you do, they are your ideas, not invented here and not the team’s ideas. (Go to these articles.)

Build the Team

Pivot to Strategy

Build the team strategically, operationally and organizationally. Start with strategy and a Burning Imperative that is a sharply defined, intensely shared, and purposefully urgent understanding from each of the team members of what they are “supposed to do, now,” and how this works with the larger aspirations of the team and the organization. (Go to these articles.)

Drive Operational Accountability

The real test of a high-performing team’s tactical capacity lies in the formal and informal practices that are at work across team members, particularly around clarifying decision rights and information flows.  Managing milestones is about mapping and tracking what is getting done by when by whom. Early wins are all about credibility and confidence. So identify potential early wins, their associated milestones and over invest to deliver them —as a team! (Go to these articles.)

Strengthen the Organization

Make your organization stronger by acquiring, developing, encouraging, planning, and transitioning talent:

  • 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.

This is one of the most important things you do. (Go to these articles.)

Sustain Momentum

Keep Building

Remember that aligning your people, plans, and practices around a shared purpose is not a one-time event, but, instead, something that will require constant, ongoing management and improvement to sustain momentum and deliver results. (Go to these articles.)

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 with a focus on those who care most:

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 built by connecting 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 as you implement. 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 to do their absolute best, together, to realize a meaningful and rewarding shared purpose. Apply this framework to your team, remembering that you must lead differently as your team grows.

  • EnvironmentWhere to play? (Context)
  • ValuesWhat matters and why? (Purpose)
  • AttitudesHow to win? (Choices)
  • RelationshipsHow to connect? (Communication)
  • BehaviorsWhat impact? (Implementation)

GET A HEAD START

1 Position Yourself for Success

At its core, leadership is an exercise in culture change. It’s about creating and bridging gaps: gaps between you and your new team, gaps between reality and aspiration. Thus, positioning yourself for success as a leader must start with understanding your own cultural preferences and strengths in the context of potential opportunities. Then you should create options and do a real due diligence to mitigate organizational, role and fit landmines. (Go to these articles.)

2 Leverage the Fuzzy Front End

How you approach the time between accepting the job and before you start can have a massive impact on your success after you start. On the one hand, the approach is different if you’re joining a new company, getting promoted or transferred from within, crossing international boundaries or merging teams. On the other hand, the context and culture will inform your choice around whether to assimilate in slowly, converge and evolve or shock the organization with sudden changes. (Go to these articles.)

MANAGE THE MESSAGE

3 Take Control of Day One

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 as the new leader think and what you’re going to do. You’re going to get positioned – either by others or by yourself. This is why it’s so important to 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. (Go to these articles.)

4 Activate Ongoing Communication

The prescription for communication during the time between Day One and co-creating a Burning Imperative is counter-intuitive and stressful for new leaders following this program. The fundamental approach is to converge and evolve. And the time before co-creating a Burning Imperative is all about converging. This means you can’t launch your full-blown communication efforts yet. You can’t stand up and tell people your new ideas. If you do, they are your ideas, not invented here and not the team’s ideas. (Go to these articles.)

BUILD THE TEAM

5 Pivot to Strategy

Build the team strategically, operationally and organizationally. Start with strategy and a Burning Imperative that is a sharply defined, intensely shared, and purposefully urgent understanding from each of the team members of what they are “supposed to do, now,” and how this works with the larger aspirations of the team and the organization. (Go to these articles.)

6 Drive Operational Accountability

The real test of a high-performing team’s tactical capacity lies in the formal and informal practices that are at work across team members, particularly around clarifying decision rights and information flows.[2]  Managing milestones is about mapping and tracking what is getting done by when by whom. Early wins are all about credibility and confidence. So identify potential early wins, their associated milestones and overinvest to deliver them —as a team! (Go to these articles.)

7 Strengthen the Organization

Make your organization stronger by acquiring, developing, encouraging, planning, and transitioning talent:

  • 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.

This is one of the most important things you do. (Go to these articles.)

8 Keep Building

Remember that aligning your people, plans, and practices around a shared purpose is not a one-time event, but, instead, something that will require constant, ongoing management and improvement to sustain momentum and deliver results. (Go to these articles.)

 

For a complete list of all of our Forbes articles, see below:

GET A HEAD START

Position Yourself For Success

Culture (Behaviors, Relationships, Attitudes, Values, Environment)

Mergers and Acquisitions

Interviews

Negotiating

Mitigate Risks

First-Time Leaders

Leverage the Fuzzy Front End

Approach

Interim

MANAGE THE MESSAGE

Take Control of Day One

Relationships

Activate Ongoing Communication

Message

Communication Basics

Engagement

BUILD THE TEAM

Pivot to Strategy

Innovation

Service

Competitive Advantage

Drive Operational Accountability

Strengthen the Organization

KEEP BUILDING

Rapid Growth

Shifting Sands

Adjusting

Bosses

Contingency Planning

Executive Onboarding Notes

Others