100 days in power how to make an impact as a CEO

Written by
Nick Goldberg

16 Nov 2016

16 Nov 2016 • by Nick Goldberg

Your 100-day action plan

When joining an organisation in a position of power, time is of the essence to establish a sense of leadership. 

Outline the big picture – nobody knows the ins and outs from day one, but this shouldn’t stop you from presenting a clear plan. As soon as you’re introduced, draw a picture of how the new strategy will be shaped in the first few months of your leadership.  And, make your first communication personal. Explaining why you care will help them understand you, lay the foundations for a culture of openness and honesty, and give the concept some colour. 

On her first day, Theresa May stated “the government I lead will be driven not by the interests of the privileged few, but by yours.” She turned Brexit into a positive fresh start that would strive to provide equality for everyone and this clear, concise vision was one that was easy to grasp and relate to.

Don’t dwell – You need to quickly demonstrate you were the right choice to solve the issues your new organisation is facing. In order to do so, gain an understanding of what about you the Board specifically valued and play to these strengths. 

Theresa May achieved this on her second day, when she used her first official visit as Prime Minister to calm a rebellious Scotland that was contemplating a break-away from a non EU United Kingdom. Scotland leaving the union was an outcome neither the Leave or Remain camp wanted, so May demonstrated how she was the right choice for all parties involved.
Collaborate with the key players - Your most powerful alliances may not be obvious. Get out in the organisation, talk face-to-face with employees at all levels and listen. If you know who you were up against for the job, keep your “enemies” close and prioritise building this relationship.  

Theresa May swiftly turned her leadership rival Andrea Leadsom, from an opponent to an asset when she appointed her as Secretary of State for Environment. Make it your goal to boost the image of your previous opponents in order to win their respect and then leverage their endorsement among their supporters. 

Do something tangible - Talk can be seen as cheap. Identify a “quick win” – a challenge to which you can provide a solution that draws upon your strengths of broader experience, competitor insight and new ideas. Consider within this solution how you can show you have already actively listened and learned from the business, but have real value to add – aiming to strike that perfect balance between listening and telling. An early deliverable will serve to take the pressure off while you develop a more comprehensive masterplan of positive impact.

Theresa May achieved this by not signing the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant deal, citing that she wanted to take a fresh look at the plans. Taking more time to review the plans was a great decision, as it showed she was not afraid to question pre laid plans, while also showing that she was making tangible impact by disrupting the status quo. 

There is no shortage of challenges for a CEO or leader when entering a new organisation, but there is also an opportunity to implement your vision throughout the organisation. Act fast and decisively to reassure both the board and employees that you are the right person for the job.