What 3 Actions Can Drive Success For a New CEO?

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“New CEOs face a critical strategic choice. Should they settle into the job, spend a year or more getting to know their businesses, and then start shifting the portfolio? Or is it better to act quickly and boldly early on to divert resources from mature activities to a new generation of corporate opportunities?” This key question probably highlights the first decision a new CEO must make, and was the subject of a survey by McKinsey, that will be of interest to CEOs everywhere.

McKinsey found that moving quickly to take effective action is more likely to improve organization performance and market position. We believe it’s also more likely to build employee engagement, which is a critical factor driving performance as well as building customer interest and anticipation of change beneficial for them and their future.

When a new leader is brought on board, the entire organization is poised for change. Waiting too long often creates a wide-spread impression that nothing is going to change. But, moving too quickly, without having taken action first to obtain both internal and external information and data that provides a clear context for change, often creates the impression that the new leader is making snap judgments and doesn’t care to find out what others know and recommend.

How can a new leader determine the right time, early, to begin driving a shift in resources, changes in staff, and set direction for the business? We recommend the following 3 steps for a new CEO to drive success:

1. Obtain data using outside sources to assess effectiveness of the company’s value proposition its competitive advantage. What is the unique difference that drives customers to buy from this company? How long will that unique difference be effective in our fast-changing business environment? Who are the key competitors and what are their strategies? How might technology, customer needs, and the industry evolve and what are the implications for the future? Obtaining this data for review and discussion with the executive team is essential.

2. Meet with the executive team, their teams, and the workforce to introduce yourself. Let them know what they can expect from you as their new leader, and that you’ll be obtaining their input to help inform you in planning the pathway for an exciting future. Meet with individuals and with small groups in carefully prepared, facilitated discussion sessions.

3. Complete an organization assessment to determine where the company is now in terms of its readiness and capability to execute its current strategy.  Use a professionally crafted, simple, quick, non-intrusive questionnaire that can you with your executive team and then cascade across the entire enterprise. If you use multiple choice questions with a space for comments you could quickly assess your organization in the 6 key aspects of strategic performance (see our article using the second link below for more information on these components):

a. Strategic Understanding
b. Leadership
c. Balanced Metrics
d. Activities and Structure
e. Human Capital
f. Market Discipline

Report back to the organization to share the results of your information gathering and the next steps.

By taking these 3 actions, a CEO can, within a few months, equip him/herself and the organization with the knowledge, information and insights that are critical to driving the right changes at the right time.

Following these 3 steps will provide essential data and information from expert and stakeholder perspectives and catalyze insights as well as engaging both your executives and your workforce in the gathering of information that, combined, sets the context for effective change.  And, once engaged and certain of their direction, your workforce will follow you, energized with commitment.

What are your related thoughts and experiences? Please share them with us below.

Sources/Recommended Reading:

Updated, copyrighted 6/9/2021 by Rosanna M. Nadeau; Copyrighted 10/19/2013 by Rosanna Nadeau, Prism Perspectives Group LLC

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