Friday, April 28, 2023

A Leader's First 90 Hours


As a new leader at any level, what will you do in your first 90 hours on the job?  Fascinating question.  A very important question in my view.  HBS Professor Emeritus John Quelch wrote a thought-provoking piece recently for HBS Working Knowledge on this topic.  He reminds us of the terrific book, First 90 Days, written two decades ago by Mike Watkins.  Quelch argues that the world is moving so quickly that new leaders need to focus on their first 90 hours; they simply can't wait to take certain actions given the pace of change.  Whatever you think about Quelch's arguments and recommendations, there's one piece of advice that resonated with me.  He advocates for careful consideration of actions during those first 90 hours that will signal your values as a leader.  I wholeheartedly agree.  

Think about how people throughout your team or organization will interpret your words and actions during those first few days.  They will be reading between the lines, chatting with their colleagues, and reflecting on the meaning behind your actions.   Through it all, they are trying to discern what is important to you, and what your priorities will be.  Who and what do you value?  

Therefore, consider carefully the way others will perceive those initial actions.  Who are you meeting with during those early days?   What are you emphasizing in your communications?  What small changes will you make to signal your values?  Are there any immediate investments you can make that suggest a new way of leading?  How open and transparent will you be in relation to what prior leaders have done?  Considering these questions carefully will be highly important as you set the tone in those first few days in a new role. 

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