How to Ace Your First 90 Days in Your New Leadership Role



Let me be the first to say, “Congratulations!” Of course, I’m sure I’m not actually the first to say that. Nevertheless, I love celebrating promotion success. Now, I understand you may not have technically just received that well-earned promotion, but someday you will. And when that day comes, you’ll want to have every tool possible so that you can ace your first 90 days in your new leadership role.


Before we dive into these 4 tips, I wanted to mention that I also offer a free “Salary and Promotion Negotiation Guide.” I’ll add a link to it at the bottom of this blog post so that you can download it in anticipation of your next promotion.


Practice Servant Leadership


If you asked a half dozen different career coaches how they define Servant Leadership, you’ll most likely get at least a half dozen different answers. The idea is rooted in the concept that, as a leader, your primary mission is to serve those who report to you. This can seem at odds with the idea that a leader’s role is to manage the team, so let’s unpack this a bit more.


A servant is someone who has a responsibility to another individual. At a restaurant, the server is there to make your meal as enjoyable as possible.


A leader is someone who inspires others. They bring others alongside them to greatness.


So, in my opinion, Servant Leadership simply means you’re there to build up your team, to grow them, and to prepare them for the next stage of their career. It doesn’t mean you’re doing their work for them. Rather, you’re ensuring they have what they need to do their job successfully.




Know those who work for you


Have you ever worked for someone who didn’t know you, care about your life, or simply saw you as a number? It was rough, wasn’t it? You didn’t feel like you mattered to them and that you were easily replaceable.


If you want to ace your first 90 days in your new leadership role, make it your mission to get to know your team right away. Learn the names of their spouses, their kids, their hobbies, and what makes them tick. You may already know some of this from working alongside them, but if you don’t, now is the time to be different from those inferior bosses you’ve had before.


Set expectations early

This tip is particularly true for those who have been promoted and now manage their peers. One individual once said that a direct report saw him too much as a friend and not someone who would be evaluating their job performance. When the employee didn’t perform, they had to be reprimanded for it.


You don’t want those who were previously your peers to think it’s time to party or slack off. Let them know that you still have expectations. But again, frame this in the concept of Servant Leadership so that they know you have their best interests at heart.


Rethink how you say things


One challenge new leaders face is how to frame corrective action. Your leadership success can often depend on how you say simple things. Consider:

  • I need you to fix the problem.

  • What do you think the best solution may be to fix this?

The former statement shuts the door to further dialogue, putting the employee on the defensive. The latter empowers the employee to think through the problem and come up with a creative solution. While both will hopefully result in a resolution, simply stating what you need them to do in an entirely different way can help you ace those first 90 days.



The best tip to ace your first 90 days in your new leadership role


Yes, this is a bonus tip, but I think it ties all four of these together. Are you ready for this?


Know that you’re going to make mistakes. It’s how you respond to them that matters.


You won’t get everything right. You can do everything in your power to practice Servant Leadership, get to know your direct reports, set expectations, or rethink how you say stuff. At the end of the day, you’re still going to trip up from time to time. You and your new team are still learning how to interact with each other. After all, you are responsible for the team’s performance and the stress of your new responsibilities can occasionally override even the best attempts at successful leadership.


Don’t be afraid to own up to your mistakes when you make them. Let your team know you’re there for them and ultimately have their career success in mind.


Of course, getting to this stage of your career is helpful if you have a guide to walk you through the preparation steps to earning that much-deserved promotion. Remember that “Salary and Promotion Negotiation Guide” I mentioned? It’s an excellent resource to help set your career on the right path.


Ready to learn more? Click HERE to download the guide!


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