First 100 Days In A New Job: 7 Ways to Make Your Mark as a Leader

First 100 Days In A New Job: 7 Ways to Make Your Mark as a Leader

Landing a new leadership role is exhilarating, but with the excitement comes the pressure of those crucial first 100 Days in a new job. Whilst many leadership factors take time to embed and develop with a new team, this critical period sets the tone, building trust, establishing your style, and influencing your team’s trajectory.

History in the Making: The Power of 100 Days

The significance of the first 100 days isn’t just modern hype. Take President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933. Facing the desolation of the Great Depression, Roosevelt took office promising swift action. He delivered – within his first 100 days, he signed 15 major bills and 76 new laws, including measures to revive the economy, create jobs, and even lift the shackles of Prohibition.

This was considered a landmark achievement, a beacon of hope in a nation’s darkest hour, and solidified the “First 100 Days” as a benchmark for measuring a president’s early impact. But this isn’t just restricted to the role of President or Prime Minister, whether you’re leading a company, a department, or even a volunteer group, the principles remain the same.

7 Strategies to Craft Your Leadership Legacy

1. Chart Your Course – Before Day One

Don’t wait for your first day to start swimming. Proactively reach out to your superiors and colleagues. Discuss their expectations, key challenges, and organisational priorities. Research the company culture, industry trends, and major competitors. This pre-boarding initiative demonstrates initiative, strategic thinking, and a thirst to learn, all qualities that impress from the outset. Although any of these elements will be familiar to incoming leaders who have been through an executive recruitment process, it is good to start as you mean to go on when you secure a new role.

2. Align to the Company Symphony (at least initially)

Every organisation has its unique rhythm. Immerse yourself in the company’s communication channels, structures, and decision-making processes. Understand how information flows and where informal power lies. Adapting to the existing melody builds trust, shows respect for established norms, and positions you to navigate the internal landscape effectively – even if you are planning to make changes as you progress.

3. Connect and Collaborate

Your early success hinges on strong relationships. Prioritise connecting with colleagues across all levels, departments, and backgrounds. Seek partnerships, and build a support network both upwards and downwards within the structure. Leverage informal meetings, coffee breaks, and team lunches to create genuine connections and understand individual perspectives, but balance this with decisiveness and always lead with essential leadership qualities on display. Trusting relationships lay the foundation for effective collaboration and team cohesion.

4. Deliver Early Wins – Build Trust Through Action

Early wins set the tone for your leadership. Identify low-hanging fruit – a streamlined process, a resolved conflict, or a tackled obstacle. Delivering quick wins demonstrates your ability to identify problems, prioritise effectively, and produce tangible results. These early successes build trust, inspire confidence, and generate momentum for bigger initiatives.

5. Champion Open Communication – Lead Through Transparency

Effective communication is the cornerstone of strong leadership. Develop an open and transparent environment where feedback is encouraged and ideas flow freely. Regularly communicate with your team, informing them about decisions, progress, and challenges. Open communication builds trust, fosters engagement, and empowers your team to take ownership.

6. Be a Continuous Learner

Leadership is a lifelong journey of learning and growth. Actively seek out learning opportunities – attend workshops, read industry publications, and connect with peers in other organisations. Demonstrating a commitment to continuous learning sets a positive example for your team and ensures you remain relevant and effective in your role.

7. Plan for Day 101 – Show Strategic Vision

While focusing on the immediate, don’t neglect the bigger picture. Use your first 100 days to gather insights, analyse data, and formulate a long-term vision. Collaborate with stakeholders to develop strategic plans addressing key challenges and leveraging opportunities. Presenting a well-defined roadmap for the future showcases your strategic foresight and positions you as a leader who thinks not just in the present, but for the organisation’s long-term success.

Remember, your first 100 days are a golden opportunity to establish yourself as a strong and effective leader. By proactively taking these steps, you can build trust, inspire your team, and make a lasting positive impact on your new organisation.

Chris Percival
Chris Percival

Chris is the Founder & Managing Director of CJPI and a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership.

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