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The leadership plan – case study, business

The first 100 days case study - sign up to this course to learn more about this critical period.
Hand drawing a business diagram with the process from vision through strategy and execution to success.

You are the new CEO of an organisation where you have been tasked to grow the organisation as well as ensure it addresses ESG as a priority.

According to the eight-step plan, you might look at the first 100 days as follows:

  1. objectives of role or specific focus you have been tasked with (everything following should be cross-checked against this): growth will need to be a priority, as well as ESG
  2. staff inductions, and broader introduction to workforce (letting them get to know you): speak to all direct reports in terms of induction, but also on their view re challenges and opportunities re growth and ESG considerations; also meet all board members one-to-one; to be completed in first month
  3. stakeholder identification and induction/listening sessions (understanding their priorities): identify stakeholders through staff inductions and board meetings, and arrange to meet key individuals within first two months
  4. review and clarification of financials including historic actuals, budget, forecast and longer-term strategy: complete review within first month, and keep returning to as you learn more about the business
  5. review of current broader strategy, and initial assessment of its continuing relevance: try to read any materials before even starting the role, and use the information as a basis for the various induction meetings
  6. identification of critical issues needing decisions within a short timeframe and timelines/steps to action: clarify in first weeks whether there are any critical risks around the financials and growth, and ESG (any regulatory requirements we are not meeting?). Any other things coming out of induction that weren’t previously flagged during the interview process?
  7. formulation of draft updated vision and mission for organisation based on 2 and 3, as well as other data and information: have draft thoughts ready by end of 100 days, and a plan in terms of engagement, refinement and agreement over the next period
  8. formulation of draft strategy (strawman) to work on further in a collaborative manner (bringing people with you): commence draft outline by end of 100 days, including key elements; have plan for completion through a strategic process to follow.

Within the above there will be a lot of detail and nuance, and there will be competing priorities as the day-to-day role comes in. Often you will find that administrative tasks and other people’s priorities start to suck up your time, especially as it will all be new to you, and if you can it will be a great help to you to try to keep time aside for your induction and key 100 day priorities. If you can resist pressure from others to sidetrack you, intentionally or otherwise, at this early stage, you will be able to ensure you maximise your impact for the longer term.

Remember in this, but also more broadly: you will be setting the tone and expectations during this first period, so if your implicit message to the organisation is that you are easily distracted from your priorities, that may be a mistake. Equally, you may not wish to come across as unapproachable and rigid. Thinking about how you want to come across to others is a vital part of the 100-day plan, and should also be considered around step one of your plan.

In terms of a broader leadership plan, once you have achieved your strategy out of the 100-day plan, that will be a key element of your overall plan, as you will be clear what it is you want to achieve. It’s the high-level guiding star, if you like. If you combine that and the tactics to get there in terms of actions and steps, and then identify areas for personal development to add in, you will be putting together a number of specific tactical strategies in order to make a full leadership plan. Going back to Course 1 and Step 4.20, we looked there at your personal communications plan as an example of a ‘sub-plan.’ In Step 4.24 of the same course we looked at ten steps to leadership in the form of a plan. In summary, I recommended following the RIVAS tool we discussed already in Course 1, and to do the following:

  1. using RIVAS, ask yourself what your Result is; that’s in effect step one above
  2. work through the Intention, i.e. what is the driving force behind this goal – why do you really want to achieve this?
  3. Visualise success, if you are able to (some people have an inability to do this, but that’s a minority, and alternatives can be used in this case), as that is an effective influencer in terms of our brain and the way it works
  4. think about your core values, and your USP (your personal brand, or ‘unique selling points’), and note these down as part of what success will look like. Ensure you have been visualising them too; how will these relate to growing the company and addressing ESG issues?
  5. work out what your priorities will be in the last stages of your strategy, before achieving your goal and, working backwards, work out what your priorities will be at regular stages through the plan/timeline to achieve your goal. Write them down. They may be things like improving your communication skills, getting the opportunity to present to your board, or getting more experience in one area or another; they will also include practical actions such as set out in the first 100 days plan
  6. write down these specific action steps you will take at each stage of the plan, to keep you on track
  7. for each of your priorities and actions, consider what support you need, and arrange it. This might be further learning, or increased resources, etc
  8. consider writing a short journal at the end of each day, highlighting your successes and what you can be grateful for – and celebrate those successes
  9. keep checking in with steps 2, 3 and 4, and adjust step 5 every so often if needed
  10. you’ve reached your goal!
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