Looking back at the New Leader’s Playbook articles that got the most traction in 2013, it’s clear that readers’ interests are strongest in three areas: sharpening interview skills to get the job, managing executive onboarding well to accelerate progress in a new job and putting the concepts of BRAVE leadership in place to deliver better results faster.

Let’s look at these a little more closely:


Sharpening Interview Skills

The two most popular New Leader’s Playbook articles in 2013 described the only three true interview questions and look at how you can ace the job interview. These interview questions are:

  1. Can you do the job?
  2. Will you love the job?
  3. Can we tolerate working with you?

They are designed to get at strengths, motivation and fit. The good news is that if there are only three questions, there are only three answers. Theoretically, this should make interview preparation that much easier. You will still have to put in the effort, of course, but these articles provide you with a framework on how to get started. And if it doesn’t work the first time, take a look at how to turn rejection into a job offer.

(Note: I originally published the three interview questions article in 2011, and it was still my most read and most shared article in 2013. There must be something to it.)

Executive Onboarding

There’s no doubt that executive onboarding is the key to accelerating success and reducing risk in a new job. Onboarding is a crucible of leadership which, when done poorly, creates way too much pain and suffering for too many people. Done well, everyone involved benefits. The fundamental rules for successful executive onboarding are:

  1. Get a head start
  2. Manage your message
  3. Build your team

Different organizations and leaders approached onboarding differently in 2013. We looked at risks, opportunities and ideas for new leaders at WalmartMicrosoftKrogerBen & Jerry’sIntelSiemen’sJC PenneyQualcomm, where a new CEO should focus first, and new COOs in general.

It’s gratifying to see more and more people reading and recommending our book, “The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan” [request an executive summary]. Yet it’s disappointing to note that the overall 18-month failure rate for new leaders continues to stick at 40 percent. Don’t just read the books and articles: Put them into practice. Commit to this in 2014.


BRAVE Leadership

Our new thinking in this area was well received as people read about making corporate culture a sustainable advantage and then why you must lead differently as your team grows. The second of these articles was drawn directly from our new book, “First-Time Leader,” [request an executive summary] and its BRAVE leadership framework:

  • Behaviors are the actions that make real lasting impact on others.
  • Relationships are the heart of leadership. If you can’t connect, you can’t lead.
  • Attitude encompasses strategic, posture and culture choices around how to win.
  • Values are the bedrock of a high performing team. Get clear on what really matters and why.
  • Environment sets the context for everything else in terms of where you are playing.

Be BRAVE. On one level it’s such a simple concept that anyone should be able to grasp it. On a different level, the core messages in “First-Time Leader” are things you should have embraced as a first-time leader and should keep in mind in 2014 and beyond:

  1. Leading is different than managing (or doing).
  2. Taking over as a leader for the first time (or any time) is a critical, career-defining moment. (Have you figured out that I think this matters?)
  3. Focus on the cause. People follow charismatic leaders for a time. But they devote themselves over time to the cause of a BRAVE leader who inspires and enables them in the pursuit of that cause.

Those and a happy and healthy new year are my hopes for you and yours as we say goodbye to 2013.

Follow this link for an executive summary of George Bradt’s New Leader’s Playbook and click-throughs to all the articles.