Franklin D. Roosevelt
Cover of Franklin D. Roosevelt

In his recent New York Times column, The Next First (and Only) 100 Days, Thomas Friedman makes the point that

Since F.D.R., we’ve measured presidents by their “first 100 days.” But now it’s really “the only 100 days.”

He goes on to talk about the need for the next president to drive a solution to the three concurrent jobs crises in his or her first 100 days.  (1-the drop in aggregate demand; 2-long-term unemployment and lost job market connections; 3-the merger of globalization and and the IT revolution).  His argument is that US presidents have only 100 days to lay down their agenda before they have to start compromising.  As always, Friedman makes a lot of sense.

This is the wrong approach in virtually any other leadership role

Don't get me wrong.  I'm a huge believer in the import of a new leader's first 100 days.  (N.B. our book, The New Leader's 100-Day Action Plan)  And we decided to focus on the first 100 days precisely because of FDR's impact.  What's different is that for most leaders the first 100 days is about setting up success, not delivering success.

We continually preach the onboarding basics of get a head start, manage the message, and build the team and a BRAVE leadership framework.  We're all about Better Results Faster.  What we've learned is that most people, in most situations, can do this best by pausing to accelerate.  For most people, the first 100 days is about jump starting strategic, operational, and organizational processes to deliver early wins over their first six months and sustainable results after that.

Big Friedman fan.  A lot of wisdom in this particular article.  Don't follow it blindly in your new leadership role.


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