Transitioning to the CEO Role: The First 90 Days

Growing Pains 4th Edition by Dr. Eric Flamholtz and Dr. Yvonne Randle
Growing Pains 4th Edition by Dr. Eric Flamholtz and Dr. Yvonne Randle
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LOS ANGELES - May 14, 2014 - PRLog -- I recently was coaching a client on the transition to the CEO role. As part of that coaching process, I prepared a memo outlining some thoughts for the first 90 Days.  That memo was the basis for this article.

The First 90 Days

First impressions are important. People will be looking to see if it is business as usual or whether things will change.  The first 90 days are fairly important for that judgment. If you want to send a message about change, this is the time to do it.

Redefining your Role Concept and Time Allocation

Your role is now much broader than before, and demands on your time must be inevitably greater. There simply will not be sufficient time to do everything by yourself.

It might be helpful if you step back and use the criterion of “highest and best” use to guide your strategic time allocation time. What is my highest and best use? That should govern your role.  Identify the things that only you can do, and delegate most of the rest.

Key Role Components

All managerial and leadership roles include three key aspects:1

1)    Technical aspects,

2)    Managerial aspects, and

3)    Leadership aspects.

In your new role leadership needs to be much greater than before. It requires greater time and emphasis.

Your Leadership (Support) Team:
Selection and Organization

The next step is to organize your leadership team:

What are the key roles you want to have and the people you want in those roles.

·         Who gets to report to you?

·         The magic number is 9. After nine people, there are prima facie too many reports.

Our research has shown that there are five key “strategic leadership functions” that need to be performed in any organization:2

·         Vision and strategy: What is our vision for the business and our strategy

·         Culture: What are the values that are important in our business

·         Operations: Responsibility for day to day operations

·         Systems: What systems are needed to support our operations?

Work Evaluation

The next step is to evaluate the work you and your team are doing. This the Jack Welsh approach of “workout”-- meaning get work out of the organization:

1)    Why do we do what we do? Is it necessary?

2)    When and how do we do it?

a.     Timing and

b.    Mode (i.e., meetings)

3)    How should it be done going forward?


The now famous John Wooden Quote is relevant here: “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Planning must to become a way of life.  Specifically, what is the plan for the:

·         Year

·     vzyno     Month

·         Week

·         Day


The plan provides the basis of accountability. To be accountable, people need feedback:

·         How well are we doing against the plan?

·         It enables rewards to be administered without surprise

Final Comment

I am sure that much of this is not new to you, but perhaps it will help stimulate some thoughts that might make some aspects of your new role a bit easier.

For information about the Management Systems Coaching process, see Management Systems Leadership Development and Coaching (

1 See Eric Flamholtz and Yvonne Randle, Growing Pains, Fourth Edition, 2006, chapter 9.

2 Eric Flamholtz, (2011) “The Leadership Molecule Hypothesis: Implications for Entrepreneurial Organizations,”International Review of Entrepreneurship. Volume 9,  Issue  no. 3, pp. 1-23

Laurie Flamholtz
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