Successful leaders in both the public and private sector will tell you that what you do in your first 100 days in a new role has a major impact on the success of your entire tenure, and no period is more important than your first week. No matter what your political allegiance, any leader in a new role can benefit by applying these Week 1 strategies, demonstrated masterfully by Barack Obama.
1) Inspire - Author Marcus Buckingham has written that the single most important thing any leader must do is inspire others to a brighter future. No matter how many storm clouds are swirling, you must effectively communicate a message of hope for a brighter tomorrow. A future others want to be led toward.
2) Soften Expectations - New leaders are often ushered in on the groundswell of frustration over their predecessor. As such, the expectations for the immediacy and breadth of their impact can prove unrealistic. Set expectations that progress will be made, but that it likely will take time and occur incrementally.
3) Hit the Ground Running - Jim Kilts, the highly respected former CEO of Gillette once told me that one of the most common mistakes leaders make is to show up to a new role unprepared. "Many assume they can take their time to learn the organization, and then make decisions. But the team is looking for leadership, and your first impression is your most lasting. Your work should begin months before you arrive, so that Day 1 you can take charge and start making decisions."
4) Manage Your Relationship Distances - When you have achieved success, it is common for your foes to begin plotting your demise, and for your friends to begin plotting your surrogacy. Reach out to enemies and build bridges. Reach out to friends and set boundaries.
5) Set Long Term Objectives, With Wiggle Room - It is appropriate to set lofty goals early on ("we will close Guantanamo...), but make sure you have enough wiggle room to deal with all the known and unknown complications that may arise (...in a year.").
6) Demonstate Real Change - At 12:01 p.m. during the Presidential inauguration, Macon Phillips, the Director of New Media for the White House introduced a new blog. In a statement he explained that the blog was "just the beginning of the new administration's efforts to expand and deepen online engagement." Find tangible ways to quickly demonstrate your own "new beginnings."
7) Ensure Authentic Connections with Your Wife and Family - Watching Obama attend 10 separate inauguration meetings made me exhausted! Taking on a significant new role requires an exceptional investment in time, energy and commitment. Your family is your partner in this journey, and you must ensure they are enlisted in the cause, and visibly appreciated as a partner.
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