Set the pace

The organization keys off of its leaders


Remember your first day of school? Remember all the doubts and insecurity, as well as the eagerness to get started?

The first day of work can be the same, right? Even if you’re a senior leader – is the team strong? Are they organized? What do they expect of me? Will I like it?

As a senior leader, people look to you, and your task is pretty clear – organize and lead the charge towards the goal.

Here are four behaviors that I’ve followed for any organizational entry:

  1. Survey the team. Who are they? What motivates them? What do they hope you will do?
  2. Set a goal. Whether it is one that you come up with, or it is an already established one from the organization – publicize it, affirm it, and build the metrics that will show progress and success.
  3. Build action steps and timelines. What are the strategies to reach the goal? What are the tactics to drive the strategies? How will those be measured?
  4. Follow up and follow through. Is the team on track? Are they lacking a key resource? Is there a roadblock that needs to be removed?

As the leader, you set the pace for the organization. One of my supervisors once said, “I move with purposeful urgency.” That’s a fantastic summary statement, and I’ve kept it in mind ever since I heard it.

Here’s the live example of how I’ve put these behaviors to work.

  1. Quick meetings with direct reports, as well as colleagues, were crucial. Key concern was the state of the business, particularly the top line.
  2. To address that concern, the team needed to hit the sales forecast. The critical action to this was to elevate this from an episodic exercise for the team, to an ongoing way of looking at the business.
  3. Action steps around the task were many and varied, but boiled down to three things:
    1. Make sure we were all on the same page for the actual forecast template, and using the same analytical framework
    2. Talk through the forecast assumptions with the team, and pull in cross functional resources to make them real
    3. Set up a series of spaced milestone check ins throughout the month and quarter
  4. For follow up and follow through, the spaced milestones served as a forum for communication. I also kept notes, and brought them with me to the meetings, to ensure we had forward progress.

Leveraging this framework, and guiding the team through it, can enable organizational success. Which is why you were selected in the first place.

And remember – set the pace. Be purposeful and vigorous in pursuit of the goal; people will notice, and follow.

What framework do you use? Do you have any organizational entry stories that you’d like to share?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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