You have been newly-anointed as leader: your task is to redesign the strategy, infuse new life in the processes, re-ignite employee engagement and squeeze green bucks out of the operations.Does it sound familiar? If it does, here is a handy reckoner for you to pass the 1st 90 days with flying colours:-

Send out the I-MAIL – The i-mail, or the inspirational mail, is your ticket to entry. In the virtual world of day, it is really, a piece of you reaching out to the masses waiting to be rescued. Do not hesitate to borrow rhetoric from world leaders of the past. Rouse passions, however, it is advisable to stop short of putting personal stuff, like your wealth, wife or your neck on the stake. As a leader, you need to provide direction, not get messed up with doing the work yourself, or getting blamed for it not getting done.

Form your Core Team – ‘Core Team’ may have evolved from the word, ‘coterie’ but I do not have any evidence to prove it. So, I advise you not to read anything else into this team.This important step involves:

1.       Move the outgoing leader’s ‘core team’ to other positions. Here are some examples:-

Current Position New Position
VP, Strategy VP, Drive and Directions (read=Transport)
VP, Quality VP, Nutritional Excellence (read=cafeteria)
VP, Sales VP, Non Conventional Revenue Streams (read=Auctioneer, Old Office furniture)

2.       Invite your friends from your ex-organization, college, and, school to form your core team. Hold the interviews at a posh lounge bar and bill the organization.

3.       Hold the plenary meeting of the core team at the spa just outside the city. 

Draft a Vision Statement – This section is inspired by a leader I worked with. Let’s call him ‘Dawn’ since it rhymes with his real name. Now Dawn asked me to define the ‘service concept’ for the organization. While I dug furiously, like my pet dog, Smokie, to figure out what it means, borrowed best practices from other organizations (called Google Searches), and did focus groups to figure out our own, I always reached a dead-end, much like Smokie! Dawn would neither tell me what he had in mind nor tell me why my ‘service concepts’ were incorrect. He would turn purple in the neck and choke with rage while reading what I had prepared that week, cursing me, ‘I frankly cannot understand why it is so difficult for you to get it right…’I could never fathom what Dawn had in mind when he said ‘service concept’.Similarly, if you do not pronounce your unique vision statement, how can you differentiate yourself? How can you lead people to believe that your vision is more esoteric, incomprehensible and divine than what they have seen so far?

Priceless tips:

1.       Make the Vision Statement far-sighted. Really far. Talk about 10 or 20 year time frames so that the average employee would need cornea transplants to see it!

2.       Use big words. What’s a leader who cannot have a vision about making the organization the world’s biggest, best and most bountiful.

3.       Use exciting action words. Like ‘drive’, ‘devastate’, ‘destroy’. Just run them by your new core team.

Design a logo – The leader’s logo is critical to his success. It has evolved from symbols of great leaders of yore: for eg., Gandhiji’s spinning wheel or Nehruji’s rose. Those simple, yet striking signs spoke volumes about the leaders they represented. But then, these were great leaders, and they had all that time on their hands to build a brand based on the good work they did. You are a leader in a hurry – with a mission to execute!  You would not want to take chances with letting a simple design represent you. So, engage a team of designers to make a complex logo. Your brief to them should be: ‘Guys, I need a pictorial representation of what this business needs to focus on.

Make sure:-

1.       The message is conveyed via 5 or 6 words, starting with the same alphabet…for instance, CREATE, COMMIT, CONQUER, CONVOLUTE, CYBERCAFE and so on. Better still, make the 1st two alphabets the same: EXPAND, EXERCISE, EXHUME, EXHALE…’

2.       Arrange the words in boxes, circles or triangles, to show complicated interrelationships and flows.

3.       Now, create a tagline. I need something powerful like, ‘Just do it’, or ‘Fill It, Shut It, Forget it, or ‘Let’s Make the World a Better Place’.

4.       Use 2-3 bright colors that make a statement about me as a leader. I would recommend a bold blue, a vibrant yellow and a muted red. “

Make the PPT – Get Jim, the college buddy, you have hired in your core team to make you some slides which convey your message. Jim was a football coach in his previous job and his exuberance and skills in planning field positions can come in handy while making those inspirational slides. Choose a flamboyant title for the presentation, so that it makes an impact. Some suggestions here ‘Tom (that’s you) Unedited’, ‘Imagine…More Than Lennon,’ or ‘Reach for the Stars’. Avoid drab titles like ‘The Strategic Roadmap for 2008’ or ‘5 Key Focus Areas for Business Growth’ or ‘My SWOT Analysis for the Business’

The Leadership Collaterals – Its time to reach your message to the masses. Divert the money you have saved by closing some projects that were instituted by the outgoing leader, to print posters, bookmarks, booklets with your logo and message. Exhort the team to be creative. In addition to the above, they can make car stickers, key chains, paper napkin holders and coasters with your logo. Whatever it takes to reach out your message!

Phew! It takes a lot of hard work to get past those first 90 days. Time for a trip to Hawaai now! Take Jim and boys along…;-) 

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