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Don’t drag your feet. Be Bold. Insights for new CEOs

Assess talent rapidly and make the changes instantly.

Successful initiatives require the right people in the right seats. By far, the most common specific regret acknowledged by first-time CEOs is that they didn’t act faster to remove people in key roles.

Move Faster.

Most CEOs wish that within their first six months in the job they had narrowed their agenda and quickened their pace. Select a few high impact organizational priorities, stay thoroughly focused on them, and then drive to completion with a relentless sense of urgency.

Stop doing your old job.

New CEOs have to establish their own leadership identity – but that’s particularly hard for those promoted internally, who must quickly achieve the requisite escape velocity to be viewed as “a boss, not a buddy.” Start
by identifying the specific things you did in your previous jobs that you will now delegate and distance yourself from – even if you’re convinced you can still do them better than anyone else.

Immerse yourself in the Board

New CEOs are often surprised by how much of their time is consumed by board-related activities – but they shouldn’t be. Experienced CEOs advise spending anywhere from 20 to 30 percent of your time on the care and feeding of your Board. Make it a top priority to get to know them personally, help them get to know you, and recognize that almost nothing is more important than quickly striking the right balance between seeking their guidance and providing them with direction.

You are the company’s face to the world

Most executives spend years learning how to manage what goes on inside the company. But the moment they become CEO, they need to make a quick pivot and turn much of their attention to the outside world – not just customers, but investors, shareholders, analysts and the media. It’s almost like learning a whole new job – including some critical lessons on what you can and can’t say, when, and to whom.

Find a few people you can confide in

Most CEOs tell us the cliche? is true: It’s an inherently lonely job. As early as you can, identify a select group of confidants, coaches and trusted advisors, including some incumbent or retired CEOs. Every CEO needs some safe outlets – people with whom they can be candid, seek advice, admit to uncertainty, and just let their hair down once in a while.

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