First 90 Days: Setting Out On The Right Foot

Coaching Focus: partner

Starting off on the right foot means…

The First 90 Days, a book by Michael Watkins, is one of my favorite topics to work on with new leaders. That time is when they are at their freshest to see things that can really help a business change and grow… and they also are at the highest risk of stepping into things they are just starting to understand. There is an overwhelming push to perform – do SOMETHING… and another of my least favorite management “truisms” that is patently false: “Quick Wins”. They are rarely either, and most often damage your reputation with at least one partner.

…your intuition shouldn’t be left

first 90 days leadership transition modelThe book is based on research from Harvard Business School that documented a different approach to stepping into a new role – and aligns with something I discuss often – asking more questions. The recommended approach breaks those 90 days into 30-day sprints, one of which is focusing on the partners you will need to understand and work with well. We have a detailed flow of the “ideal” First 90 Days from our own research and experiences below.

Something that is often critical is to understand that many times as peers, your goals are out of alignment – that is, what you are being asked to do may be directly in conflict with others. And as the new person, what you are being asked to do may be a big clue on who wins…

Finding the center requires a plan…

Over the past several years, we have used a number of elements as part of the transition strategy for senior executives. These include training on the following:

  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Change and Transition Management
  • Communications and Stakeholder Planning
  • Individual Support and Coaching

Our interviews with key leaders, managers, supervisors, and customers combine to create a body of knowledge around Transition Best Practices. In this document, you will find a compilation of these best practices, presentations, questions, and answers.

One of the questions that is most important in the First 90 Days is “What does a partnership look like?”… and the best place to start is … with yourself. What are you looking for, and what are you willing to sacrifice in return? It is one of the hardest things about performing as partners. There are times that you put your own needs second, and hopefully the other way around. And the role you are in has limits that are worth acknowledging. As Head of Engineering, I was the person most often thrown under the bus for issues with customers… or just in general… and that is just a part of the gig, or better said: part of my Performance.

… and clarity of what you are now after.

There are many rich partnerships that I have built, sustained, and still have… because the partner(s) and I were clear what Performance in our roles looked like. It is a conversation worth having with your own partners this year, or anytime you step into a new role.

How will you Perform in your own new role?

If you would like to read more stories about Performance and Executive Presence, our site has 7 posts with one of the best musical Performers ever, Sammy Davis Jr., as the soundtrack. The specific post about Partners features Frank Sintara and Sammy on stage… and how they weave their own stories into this Performance of partners… Me and My Shadow.

Our Collection of Free Coaching Resources

Use these summaries of important leadership concepts as guides to help you on your professional journey.

Direction Change

Job Search Guide: Why am I doing this?

Topic: Reflective strategies for career advancement.
Growth: Reassess your career goals and strategies, a crucial exercise for anyone looking to grow or shift their trajectory in the tech sector.
Focus: wonder from our empower framework.

~ 3 minute read.

New Job Guide: Setting Out On The Right Foot.

Topic: Building strong foundations in new partnerships or roles.
Growth: Navigate the initial stages of partnerships or leadership roles effectively, avoiding common pitfalls for long-term success.
Focus: partner from our empower framework.

~ 3 minute read.

Go Further!

More Guides for your Professional Journey...

Focus: Continuous learning and personal development.
Growth: Explore a curated selection of leadership and business books, a treasure trove for those committed to lifelong learning in leadership.
Focus: renew from our empower framework.

~ unlimited reading...

Designing Your Life Workshop

Rethink Your Career Journey


Business Communication: Can you hear me now?

Topic: Enhancing communication skills in managerial roles.
Growth: Improve your communication prowess, crucial for successful leadership and team management in the fast-paced tech industry.
Focus: manage from our empower framework.

~ 4 minute read.

Management Communication: Feed The Bear.

Topic: Implementing 360-degrees of effective management practices.
Growth: Understand the importance of 'No Surprises' in management and learn how to maintain a healthy and predictable management style.
Focus: observe from our empower framework.

~ 3 minute read.


Time Management: The Ideal Work Week.

Topic: Mastering time management for effective leadership.
Growth: Discover how to optimize your week for maximum productivity, a critical skill for tech professionals managing numerous projects and teams.
Focus: execute from our empower framework.

~ 3 minute read.

Task Delegation: From A to Z.

Topic: Mastering the art of delegation for effective leadership.
Growth: Learn the key to scaling any business through effective delegation, a vital skill for leaders in technology and beyond.
Focus: engage from our empower framework.

3 minute read.

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