Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Checking Whether You're on Track

Are you focused on the right things and balancing the right priorities? How do you gauge your progress towards your targets for success? As a new leader, how do you know whether you're trending in the right direction? In The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels, Michael Watkins writes about questions you can use to determine whether you're building momentum or losing your balance.

Assessment of Core Challenges 
Watkins provides the following questions to serve as your gyroscope for keeping your balance and orientation.

Core Challenge Diagnostic Questions
Promote Yourself Are you adopting the right mind-set for your new job and letting go of the past?
Accelerate your learning Are you figuring out what you need to learn, from whom to learn it, and how to speed up the learning process?
Match strategy to situation Are you diagnosing the type of transition you are facing and the implications for what to do and what not to do?
Secure early wins Are you focusing on the vital priorities that advance long-term goals and build short-term momentum?
Negotiate success Are you building you relationships with your new boss, managing expectations, and marshalling the resources you need?
Achieve alignment Are you identifying and fixing frustrating misalignments of strategy, structure, systems, and skills?
Build your team Are you assessing, restructuring, and aligning your team to leverage what you are trying to accomplish?
Create coalitions Are you building a base of internal and external support for your initiatives so you are not pushing rocks uphill?

Key Take Aways
At the end of the day, the questions help to make sure that you're setting yourself up for success by avoiding common traps.  The big traps include using the wrong strategies, failing to adapt to your new situation, and failing to build an effective support network.  Using the questions above can help make sure you cover your bases.

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