Leadership

My 100-Day Rule

New leaders often want to take their time getting into the new role -- but this may be the worst approach. In this article, author John M. McKee says there's a better way. One that will make it easier to have continued success as a manager or leader.
Here's the unfortunate fact: most new leaders don't deliver on expectations.

Regardless of whether we're talking about the next president of the United States, a new division head, or the most-recently-appointed head of a team, it's very probable that the new leader won't deliver the goods as expected or hoped.

But you can be avoid this problem. Just remember my 100-Day Rule.

I believe that each of us have a kind of "honeymoon period" whenever we start anew. Based on my reviews, regardless of how you get the new job - promoted, moved, shifted, hired, or elected - most of those who helped you get it will have their hopes up. They want to see you make a difference. And, additionally, most of those you'll be overseeing probably want you to do well, too. In fact, with the possible exception of someone who didn't get the job because you did, most of the individuals you come into contact with in your new role are going to have great expectations of your doing better than the last person.

And that's Good News - Bad News. It's like this: if you don't show some real change or momentum very quickly, then the naysayers start coming out of the woodwork. And "very quickly" is at the longest about 100 days. About 3 months. And then, you're not new anymore. When you're new, you can capitalize on the good will and immediate positive feelings. That allows you to move with greater speed, running into fewer obstacles than otherwise will be the case.

After your honeymoon period, how you did coming out of the gates will greatly impact how you're treated by everyone else.

If the rest of the organization views you as a winner, a doer, and a mover and shaker, you'll find the sailing ahead to be pretty good. People will meet with you. They'll listen when you speak in meetings. They'll know that you're going places. And they'll want to be onside.

On the other hand, if the rest of the organization sees you as someone who can't get things done, you'll find it less easy to accomplish things. I don't mean that people will be obstructionist neccessarily, just that you'll be treated as "just another" leader with needs and problems like the rest. It will be harder to get the attention of the gang upstairs. You'll have a little less clout.

So, take my advice: Come in and make a difference fast. Show everyone that you're a winner. And then have a more successful career after your first 100 Days.

And FYI - this works for your personal life too. If you're getting married, joining a new club, moving into a new neighborhood, how you do in the first 100 days will have a huge impact on your success in the next coming years.

john

Leadership Coach

About

John M. McKee is the founder and CEO of BusinessSuccessCoach.net, an international consulting and coaching practice with subscribers in 43 countries. One of the founding senior executives of DIRECTV, his hands-on experience includes leading billion d...

11 comments
starryknight
starryknight

Very good article, John. Super brief, but with a very worthwhile point. I've done it both ways, and can attest to everything you said. If you do whatever it takes during those first weeks, so that you realize some substantial progress on something visible - you'll reap the benefits almost forever. On the other hand... if you take too long and generally move too slowly, you'll eventually witness the eager, expectant cooperation of others fade noticeably. Either way, you've set a tone that tends to not change easily.. so whatever effort it takes to get it on the positive side, is worth it. Once done, you'll find many who always give you the benefit of the doubt and who tend to assume positive atitudes with you - all of which helps smooth the way for yet more good results.

dr_evil
dr_evil

I think those who promise and those who delievr are a world apart. Most of us are happy to settle with who we trust most and nine times out of ten we really dont care so long as we get a tiny margin of the wealth that goes with it. In other words where ready to settle for less and vote for the best! Thats just politics in every form of living and every life it touches, its ok to promise one thing but its ok to not delievr as well. The truth is any way you look at it its about winning the vote and short of holding you up at gun point the candidate will promise you free use of his executive toilet to get your vote. 100 days mean not that much anymore, wether you like it or not the wheels of politics in goverment or the boardroom grind slowly. So if you want to move overseas or stay where you are just remember politics is just as real there as it is at home?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

What does relocating have to do with the topic? I think the responses aren't very significant without knowing where 'here' is.

CareerCoach
CareerCoach

Most leaders fail because they are too cautious, some because they are too ambitious.

shannon.cyborski
shannon.cyborski

I am glad to hear from someone who has done it both ways because I have always thought that a good rule of thumb is actually to wait 90 days before making any major changes. The reason is that it takes about 90 days to have a full understanding of WHY things are the way they are. For example, my company just got a new CEO, and he announced that he wanted to spend about 75 days looking things over and then start making changes. At about 45 days, he started making Org. cuts and at 50 days he made a huge declaration about how the company will run, based on feedback from just half the company. He hadn't heard from the other half yet, and if he had, I wonder if he would have presented a slightly different change. So I guess the bottom line is balance. If it's important to live up to expectations early on, find a way to do it without making broad sweeping changes that may be inappropriate based on info you don't have yet. And yes, it does apply to all aspects of doing new things in group settings.

brent.harmon
brent.harmon

I would agree that getting off to a fast start is extremely important when moving into a new position. But I believe it is also important to have stamina when taking a new role. In the First 100 Days, identify "easy" wins that will have significant visibility, but also make sure that you don't just leave yourself difficult tasks for the next 100 days. In my business, it's not "What have you done?", it's "What have you done for me lately?". And if you get all of the "easy" tasks out of the way in the first quarter, the rest of the year could be pretty challenging. It's kinda like the Olympics. When you have so many qualifying events to go through, it's important to do well and qualify (establish a pattern of success), but you want to make sure you have enough in the tank to close when it counts -- in the finals (at merit time!).

SomewhatSmart
SomewhatSmart

If you are an IT leader or aspire to be one, you had better start thinking about how you would answer this question. It is not as weird as ou think. We live in a global economy and the world is flat. I have been asked to consider London, New Delhi, and China. All came out of nowhere. Get ready as it may be the deciding factor for having or not having a job.

bboyd
bboyd

maybe for this article

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

I don't see what relocating abroad has to do with the topic either. Came right outta left field.

Meesha
Meesha

In a recent situation, the "new" guy came on board, spent the next six months just researching/listening about the past administration's screw ups - some over 10 years old - but not making any significant "leadership" moves, like, identifying expectations for the staff, unifying vision and team, etc. The "new" guy definitely has shown management experience but not leadership. The teams under him have floundered badly with no sense of team, collaboration or purpose only micro management. This "new" guy definitely squandered his "honeymoon" and had lost the opportunity to make the necessary changes to move the teams forward. Creditability, trust, production, etc. had suffered. The "new" guy lost much of his supporting managers and hence put himself into "fire fighting" mode every day. It was truly sad to see. From my perspective, it was senior management's fault, first in not hiring the right leader and second in not helping guide this "new" guy into his leadership role when it became obvious he was out of his depths. Honeymoons should not be painful but rather a period of bliss to capitalize on.

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