The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan: How to Take Charge, Build Your Team, and Get Immediate Results

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By George Bradt, Jayme A. Check, and Jorge Pedraza
Wiley, 2006
240 pages, $25.95

If you are about to take on a new leadership position in an organization, you might want to look at The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan, by management consultants George Bradt, Jayme A. Check, and Jorge Pedraza, who specialize in helping managers make a transition from one assignment to another.

The book is divided into three parts — what you should do before accepting a new role, the 100-day action plan itself, and the later, ongoing adjustments to the inevitable surprises, avoiding the most common mistakes, and building loyalty, trust, and commitment. Simple frameworks for applying the ideas in the book are appended to most of the chapters, and forms laying out timetables and other sorts of organization are also available online, where they can be customized.

The concepts themselves are plain vanilla — part and parcel of every Management 101 course — but they fit well with the book’s short-term focus on the individual taking a new position. The book has three strengths: The first is the emphasis the authors place on being active well before Day One; the second is the anecdotes that accompany the concepts; and the last is the importance placed on the use of symbols and contexts.

The authors contend that, at all costs, you must avoid walking into the new job on Day One and doing what the incumbent leaders say you must do. By working hard during the “fuzzy front end,” you can ensure that the risks of taking the new position are assessed from three vantage points: those of the organization, your role in it, and you personally. Much of this work is best done even while considering the opportunity, as it’s much easier to walk away before you’ve accepted an offer. Once the job is yours, further work is required to ensure that you “take control of Day One” and make a powerful first impression with actions that support your agenda. This is where the thoughtful choice of locations (e.g., which of your division’s offices you visit), signs (e.g., how you dress), and symbols (e.g., who you talk to) counts; bear in mind that acts of omission may speak louder than actions taken. Of course, if you haven’t done your homework before Day One, you won’t have an agenda and your actions may be only distantly related to what will become the organizational priorities.

The ideas in The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan will be familiar to most managers, and the book is probably best suited to young managers taking a leadership role for the first time. More seasoned veterans, however, might find it a helpful aide-mémoire.

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