The First 90 Days by Michael Watkins is a very practical book for any leaders in transition. Personally, this is a book that has helped me transition from my manager to an associate director position.The advice and tools provided in the book just make sense.

The premise of the book are as follows:

  • Assess your strengths and weaknesses and identify personal vulnerabilities
  • Diagnose your situation and understand its challenges and opportunities
  • Negotiate a productive working relationship with your boss
  • Secure early wins that establish credibility and create momentum
  • Build your team and connect with influential support coalitions

One of the biggest lessons I learned from the book is that assessment of your self as well as the organization are key elements to a successful transition.  Oftentimes, I’ve seen leaders make changes without assessing the state of the organization and failing to realize that they themselves have learning to do. As the book states, just because you were successful in your past position with the way you approached and the methods you employed doesn’t mean necessarily that it will work in your new position also.

It is because of this book that I made the conscious effort to meet with every single one of my staff (19 of them) as part of my learning process about the organization. By meeting with my staff individually, I also started building relationships with them. I asked them about not necessarily what projects they are working on but rather their personal interests, values and what their thoughts are about the organization. While I have worked with my staff in my previous position, it was refreshing to hear other sides of them I never even knew. It was also refreshing to hear what their thoughts are on our organization.

I highly recommend the book as it gives practical advice and tools.

What other books can you recommend for leaders in transition?