The First 90 Days

Posted January 1, 2009 in Career Management, Leadership, What We're Reading

By: Michael D. Watkins

Reviewed By: Glain Roberts-McCabe

The Premise: In an homage to the recent US inauguration and the scrutiny being placed on President Obama, we thought we’d revisit Michael Watkins guide book to navigating your first three months in a new leadership role. Watkins is an Associate Professor at Harvard Business School where he specializes in leadership and negotiation. This bestseller from 2003 takes the “sink or swim” approach to onboarding new leaders out of the equation. Watkins lays out a clear and concise roadmap for how to navigate successfully through the crucial first three months on the job. From promoting yourself, to securing early wins, to creating coalitions, Watkins explores both practical strategies for new leaders and the underlying politics that will either enhance or derail your initial efforts.

The Bottom-line: This book should be mandatory reading for all new leadership hires as part of any onboarding strategy. It’s probably particularly effective for leaders who have not been “home grown” within the existing company/culture. What’s also interesting about Watkins strategies is their applicability to any level of management. The advice is practical and the strategies are straightforward (but often overlooked). On top of great content, Watkins has a highly engaging style that makes the book a quick and easy read. My particular favourites were Chapter 3 on matching your leadership strategy to the situation and Chapter 5 on negotiate success which looks at how to build your relationship with your new boss. Some great tips.

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