In looking over the past 750 articles on executive onboarding and leadership transitions, three main ideas weave together to provide a good overarching framework for thinking:


  • Focus on bringing out others’ self-confidence
  • Manage your own and others’ onboarding through seven stages
  • Jump-shift your strategies, organization and operations all together, all at the same time when leading through points of inflection


How Great Leaders Bring Out Others’ Self-Confidence

Leaders inspire, enable and empower others to do their absolute best together to realize a meaningful and rewarding shared purpose. Great leaders add bringing out others’ self-confidence by emphasizing confidence-building in their approach to the direction, authority, resource, and accountability aspects of delegation.

Virgil said it better: “They can because they think they can.”

The link to the drivers of happiness is important. Happiness is good. Actually, it’s three goods. People want to do good for others, things they are good at and to do good for themselves. Different people balance those goods in different ways.

The world needs more other-focused leaders, working to do good for others. The best of them find ways to help their colleagues leverage their strengths to do things they are good at in service of doing good for others in a way that does good for themselves. Getting that right, brings out others’ self-confidence.

No one cares about you as a leader. They care about how you give them the self-confidence to do what matters most.


Mastering the Seven Stages of Executive Onboarding

The seven stages and most important ideas are:


  1. Before the first contact figure out who you are, what you want, your strengths, and preferences around behaviors, relationships, attitudes, values and environment and your 90/10 loser positioning.
  2. Between contact and offer you are selling. Answer the only three interview questions: Why you want the job – motivation; Can you do the job – strengths (innate talent + learned knowledge + practiced skills + hard-won experience + apprenticed craft;) whether they can tolerate you – fit between your preferences and their culture.
  3. At the offer change from selling to buying and do a deal due diligence to understand the organizational, role and personal risks, keeping your eyes open if the overall risk is low, managing manageable risks, mitigating mission-crippling issues before accepting, and running away from insurmountable barriers.
  4. The Fuzzy Front End between acceptance and start is a time to craft your personal 100-day action plan, prepare for your start and jump-start key relationships
  5. The early days are all about converging by building relationships. Questions are your most valuable tools. Ask questions to learn about them. Answer their questions about you – playing the “I don’t know yet” often.
  6. The pivot from converging to evolving works best when you can co-create your future direction with your core team. Before that moment, any idea you have was “not invented here.” After that moment, you can tie everything to the co-created direction.
  7. When things change, as they will, figure out if the change is major or minor, enduring or temporary, and react accordingly.


Leading Through A Strategic Point of Inflection

Points of inflection happen after a change in our circumstances or ambitions become what Andy Grove describes as “An event that changes the way we think and act.”

The critical insight here goes to the advantage of re-looking at your strategy, organization and operations and inflecting them all, together, at the same time. While every organization does all four of these in addition to selling, the most successful let their core focus on design, production, delivery or service drive all their other choices.

The five BRAVE questions work well here. From the outside-in:


  • Where to play?                       (E nvironment – context)
  • What matters and why?         (V alues – purpose)
  • How to win?                           (A ttitude – choices)
  • How to connect?                    (R elationships – communication)
  • What impact?                        (B ehaviors – implementation)


Implications for you

You’ve figured out the intersections. Executive onboarding and points of inflection are crucibles of leadership. These are when great leaders’ confidence in their own ability to bring out others self-confidence matters most.

Click here for a list of my Forbes articles (of which this is #750) and a summary of my book on executive onboarding: The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan.

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