As a new executive, you can use mindfulness principles to build momentum and early support. Step back and reflect on the practical realities of what you’ve inherited with a view toward the programmatic, financial, organizational, political, and reputational work that you must catalyze during your first months. Think broadly; then execute incisively.
You’re the newbie. Everyone is watching every move you make. Assessing the situation, which hopefully started during the hiring process, gets easier once you’re inside. But by then, you’re often trying so hard to meet and greet and find the bathroom that thinking time is scarce.
You have four main tasks.
- Prioritize. Balancing intuition and data, determine whether what people told you about the current situation is roughly right. This assessment will tell you which priorities to maintain, which gaps to fill first, and, importantly, who you can and cannot rely on. Your understanding and acceptance of current reality underpins all subsequent work. Hope is not enough.
- Socialize. Enlist the hearts and minds of your new team—regardless of whether you believe everyone will be on that team in six months or a year. This will require individual and team engagement.
- Dramatize. Write and quantify your story. Identify the intentions and obstacles you face in your early days and beyond and how these relate to your personal mission and journey.
- Formalize. Recommend and codify, with your board, priorities, timing, and resources. Confirm how they wish to participate substantively in your effort—what they want to know, when, and in what form. Ensure that your milestones and metrics are measurable, compelling, and communicable.
Management is mindful when you can see clearly the path forward, know what’s worth your attention, understand the relationships essential to achieving your goals, and invest in nurturing those connections.
This mindfulness is never more important than in your early days as a new leader when you have the greatest opportunity to begin building massive reserves of psychic income.