Do’s and Don’ts for Taking Off in a New Role: Reflections From Top Management

January 19, 2015 • LEADERSHIP, Leadership Development, Succession Planning

By Guido Stein

In this article Guido Stein explores some of the initial actions that should be taken when starting out in a top management position, using the experience of the president and CEO of a prestigious global European financial services company. He also addresses the competencies and characteristics that define an effective leader and the management of the criteria that will help stave off foreseeable errors.

 “One learns to be a good manager by working with good managers.”

The initial adaptation period in a new executive position is ideally between three and six months. Generally speaking, any mistakes made are often due primarily to a lack of personal maturity, not enough information or improper handling of the situation. However, their consequences can colour the entire tenure, and thus the fate, of the executive. Here, in an interview with the President and CEO of a Financial Services Company some key questions about adapting to a new management role are answered.


What should be done in the first few months of a new position?
Some people believe that you have to do something grandiose with the role. I don’t believe that you can know in the first 90 days whether a new CEO is “clearly a business genius” or that he or she is going to “revolutionise the company.” These early days are a crucial period for learning, gathering information, meeting people, and identifying new responsibilities and risks; it is a time for the orderly yet decisive abandonment of former processes. Appointing someone to do exactly the same thing as his or her predecessor does not make much sense.

Some companies have a corporate culture that limits decision making and the implementation of actions. What’s more, they tend to have high employee turnover and to create dynamics like keeping up a certain pace in promotions. There must be a cultural match between the person and the company. There are unwritten rules that are respected; for example, not holding meetings at 7 p.m. If these rules are broken, there has to be a good reason.

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