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Success in an executive role depends on executing a strong transition that establishes you as a leader and sets a foothold for the future.

The stakes are high. As reported in a related study by the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School, between 30 and 60 percent of new executives fail. A significant percentage leave their jobs within 18 months.

Take your professional game to the executive level by developing an effective strategy and implementing it during the first 90 days in your new position. Thoughtful achievement of these tactics will enhance your perception as a high-impact performer and maximize your growth opportunities going forward.

  1. Take time to learn. Learning never stops, especially as you start a new job. You may have to dive right in and address some immediate demands, but be sure to allow ample time for planning and reflection. Show a discerning ability to set priorities and demonstrate leadership.
  2. Understand the business. Size up the organization and its people. Develop relationships by posing good questions to everyone you meet. As noted by Harvard Business School professor Michael Watkins in his book The First 90 Days, one particularly relevant question is “If you were me, what would you focus your attention on?” Others are “What do you want me to keep/change/do?” and “What do you want to ask me?”
  3. Use your communication skills. Every conversation is valuable as you build your insight into a company and its culture. Make it your goal to define prevalent management styles and ascertain what the organization expects of you. The difference between high- and low-performing organizations often comes down to communication issues. Be a strong communicator by gaining the pulse of your company from top to bottom.
  4. Be visible. One of the top contributors to change management identified in a recent industry study was active and visible executive sponsorship. Make your presence felt in a subtle but effective way. Engage in the organization at as many levels as possible.
  5. Hold regular meetings. Meet regularly with your direct reports – and their direct reports. This will help you understand everyone’s roles, responsibilities and views. Keep meetings small in order to build rapport and trust.
  6. Practice active listening. The right balance between analysis and action is critical. Use your first weeks to actively listen and observe. Avoid making hasty or unnecessary decisions.
  7. Set clear goals. Clear goals, clear strategies to achieve those goals and clear metrics for success are essential. Involve others in your goal-setting efforts by asking people what they need and how you can serve them. This is a simple and very powerful executive management approach. It will help you create an environment where optimal performance occurs and people – yourself included – shine.
  8. Find a good coach. Consider working with a coach or mentor who can offer the personal and professional support you need as you learn your new role. Continue to involve this person in your professional development plan. If all goes well, you will be able to extend this into a lifelong relationship.

As you transition into your role – or if you are in the market for a new career opportunity – consider partnering with the executive search team at BrainWorks. We can counsel you on the strategy you need to leverage your accomplishments and move forward. Read our related posts or contact us today to learn more.


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