The 5 Things We Can All Learn From a CEO’s First 100 Days

By | February 10, 2015

One of the things I enjoy the most about my job is working with CEOs as they embark on a new leadership journey.  A new CEO gets a blank page, a fresh start – and the opportunity to decide what he or she wants to stand for as a leader, and to impact an entire organization, and sometimes an entire industry.  This is a business situation where the power of communications is clear – to define goals, to build consensus, to bring a little bit of inspiration to the world.

Much is written about a CEO’s first 100 days, and MWW has its own 100 day protocol for embarking on this journey, and creating the leadership trajectory for the executive and the Company.  But what does a CEO’s approach to the first 100 days teach us about individuals and their careers?  What should everyone do on the first day of a new job?  I was intrigued about advice on this topic coming from Mary Barra, who has spent her entire career at GM, and who reminded me (an MWW lifer) that a new job isn’t just starting at a new company – it is starting a new role or even a new project.  You can find Mary Barra’s advice here, as well as a few takeaways from MWW’s experience in working with new leaders:

  1. You’ve already got the job, so it is OK to listen more than you talk in the early days.  We can all learn from our colleagues, and that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have your job.
  2. What you do is more important than what you say – this is a “wait and see” environment.  Your stakeholders will watch and wait – do you walk the talk?
  3. You will inevitably inherit problems.  Be part of the solution.  Responsibility isn’t the same as fault…pick up the baggage and be responsible for making it better.  Talk about the path forward, because you won’t always have all the answers off the bat.
  4. Expect teamwork and collaboration and lead by example.
  5. Be transparent, and be human.   When people know you, it is easier to trust you.
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