Strategy for the First 90 Days in your New Leadership Role

by Maura Byrne, Managing Partner at Smart Coach

Congratulations – you’ve just got the job offer for a new leadership role. Now it’s REAL. A fist pumping moment. You’ve had months of transition: deciding to leave your old job, searching for a new position, researching jobs you’re qualified for and want, getting through all the gatekeepers and interview hurdles until finally the job offer comes. And then you realise that you need a strategy for your First 90 Days.

Here’s a step-by-step roadmap to overcoming the First 90 Days challenge.

1. Prepare Yourself with Independent Support
Engage a Transition Coach or talk to a trusted Mentor. An independent supporter will ‘have your back’ and help you clarify how you can meet the challenges of the new job.

2. Buy a Journal
For note taking, reflections, observations and creative ideas around yourself and your new environment.

3. Self-Care – Preparing Yourself Internally
YOU are the most important aspect of the new job and preparing yourself internally is vital. Managing your energy and engaging in self-care comes first. The four intertwined pillars of energy are: Physical, Emotional, Mental and Spiritual

Physical Energy
Physical Energy Management includes rituals like eating regular nutritious meals, cutting back on stimulants, drinking enough water, getting 7-8 hours sleep nightly, exercising at least 2-3 times a week, balancing bursts of physical energy with times of recovery. Physical exercise also positively impacts emotional and mental energy.

Emotional Energy
To perform at your optimum in any new job, you must access positive emotions like enjoyment, challenge and opportunity. Strengthening our emotional muscles involves using the muscles of patience, empathy and confidence. The responsibilities of the new job must fit in with your family commitments. Chat with your family and agree on scheduling and your commitments. Talk to your boss early about timetable conflicts. Meditation and mindfulness are excellent tools for balancing emotional and mental energy.

Mental Energy
Too often we place a premium on using our mental energy to propel and sustain us in our new job. Relying on mental energy alone eventually leads to burnout. Our mental energy does help us organize our lives, focus our attention and set priorities. Visualization, written plans, positive self-talk, time management and creativity support us.

Spiritual Energy
When you connect to a deeply held set of values to a purpose beyond your own self-interest, you are engaging your spiritual muscles. Spiritual energy underpins our whole energy structure. Spending time in nature bolsters spiritual energy.

4. Establish Your Mandate In the New Job
You would think that this is the most straightforward part but often the mandate changes from the interview stage to the job start date. Businesses are agile and change is constant. Ask Yourself: What does this new job require of me and What are the priorities?
Week one, ask your boss to clarify your mandate again. Once you know what’s expected of you, the challenge of the new job becomes easier.

5. Listen, Listen, Listen to Learn, Learn, Learn
If you’ve been promoted, you’ll already know your company’s culture inside out however if you’re joining a new company, the learning curve will be steep. You’ll need huge reserves of mental and emotional energy to achieve an understanding. Your first weeks will be a blur of people, names, faces, processes, procedures. You’ll be hearing about the culture, vision, values, strategy, operations, products, departments, your boss, your team, your peers, your customers, your partners, your suppliers, other stakeholders, sponsors and partners. Listening and asking the right questions will be paramount.

6. Establish The Life Stage of the Company
You will already know this from the interview stage. Make sure the company strategy and your job role suit the stage: Start-Up, Turnaround, Scaling, Re-alignment, Sustaining Growth

7. Map an Influence Network and Establish Key Alliances
Once you’ve met the people and understand the internal networks discover who are your key allies? Are there any blocking forces and can you neutralize these? What relationships are at play?

8. Identify Early Wins
Sometimes the first three months of your new job are simply a Learning Phase however early wins will prove your value to the company. Are there people or process problems that you can quickly solve using your knowledge, competencies, contacts or personality? Discover issues that are important to your new boss, discover how to engage your team better for higher performance. Be a listening partner for every member of your team.

9. Set out 30, 60 and 90 Day Plans
As the jig-saw becomes clearer, set out your plans with timelines. Communicate your plans clearly getting buy-in from stakeholders.

10. Celebrate Success
Celebrating success will motivate you, your team, your boss. It also lets the universe know that you are grateful for your success. Be joyous!

Best of luck in your first 90 Days!

If you have questions or comments about this roadmap or other leadership development queries, please email

About the author
Maura Byrne is managing partner of Your Business Smart Coach, an Executive Coaching and Leadership Development Company. She helps companies who want to develop their talented executives for roles in senior management and on executive boards. One of the best people development initiatives is Mentor Training Programmes which she can set up in companies providing mentor and mentee training and supervision. She also helps companies introduce coaching cultures for better employee engagement. She trains leadership skills through one-on-one coaching, workshops and talks.

She is particularly strong on developing women for leadership roles. She is founder of HERizon – an online forum for female leadership and is an active member of the National Women’s Council of Ireland. She has been a member of the Countess Markievicz Circle and activates for Women for Election.
Maura has worked on career transitions and leadership development with senior executives in RTE, Morgan McKinley, Glanbia, Arysta and Standard Life.

Categories: Managing & Leading

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