bradt_9781119223238Moving 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 since February 2011 and woven through our main book, The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan.

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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 400 articles. 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


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)


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.)


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.)


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.)

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


Position Yourself For Success

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

Mergers and Acquisitions



Mitigate Risks

First-Time Leaders

Leverage the Fuzzy Front End




Take Control of Day One


Activate Ongoing Communication


Communication Basics



Pivot to Strategy



Competitive Advantage

Drive Operational Accountability

Strengthen the Organization

Keep Building

Rapid Growth

Shifting Sands



Contingency Planning


Click here for a free executive summary of The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan book.      bradt_9781119223238

[1] Attributed to Martin Luther at the Diet of Worms, 1521, when asked to recant his earlier writings.

[2] Neilson, Martin, and Powers, “The Secrets to Successful Strategy Execution,” Harvard Business Review (June 2008): 60.

[3] Jonathan Garrity, CEO of Cambridge Hanover, gave us the “panic early” part of this. We discovered the need to stay panicked on our own.

*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.)

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