First Friday Book Synopsis

"…like CliffNotes on steroids…"

Don’t Lead Until You Have Earned the Right to Lead in a New Job

Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas prepares backstage (Getty Images)

Here is a brief excerpt from a leadership column posted by George Bradt at the Forbes magazine website. To check out a wealth of free materials, learn more about George and his firm, and sign up for email alerts, please click here.

About 40% of executives who change jobs or get promoted fail in the first 18 months.” As Anne Fisher points out in a recent Fortune article, this has been true for about 15 years.

A big reason for the ongoing failure rate is the inability of executives to determine the right time to pivot from converging (becoming part of the team) to evolving (initiating change) when they are onboarding, changing jobs or getting promoted – and the inability of others to help them get this timing right.

Let’s unpack that into three musts for executives:

1.  Must adopt a converge and evolve approach to onboarding

2.  Must make a conscious choice about pivoting from converging to evolving

3.  Must time that pivot right

Must Converge and Evolve

We use an ACES approach to onboarding, in which leaders make a choice based on the business context and corporate culture of the company whether to Assimilate in, Converge and Evolve, or Shock a system by making immediate changes.

Understand that while there are certainly some situations where it’s right to shock a system or simply assimilate in, in the vast majority of cases, converging and evolving is the right approach. New leaders cannot lead until they have established a working relationship with their followers.

Hence, converge and evolve. Ajay Banga did this particularly well when he went into MasterCard.

Must Choose to Pivot

Converging and evolving are different. The activities are different. The skills utilized are different. This is why a new leader can’t do both at the same time. This is why it’s so important to have a clear pivot point between asking/converging and leading/evolving.

QlikTech’s Lars Bjork used his first annual meeting to do this, and it worked so well that he pulls his whole company together every year to pivot from the learnings of the year before to the priorities of the year ahead.

This is a critical part of step 2 of The New Leader’s Playbook: Engage the Culture and Your New Colleagues in the Right Context

Be careful about how you engage with the organization’s existing business context and culture. Crossing the need for change based on the context and the cultural readiness for change can help you decide whether to Assimilate, Converge and Evolve (fast or slow), or Shock.

Please click here to read about each step in the playbook.

Please click here for YouTube videos highlighting each step.

*     *     *

To read the complete article, please click here.

The New Leader’s Playbook includes the 10 steps that executive onboarding group PrimeGenesis uses to help new leaders and their teams get done in 100-days what would normally take six to twelve months.

George Bradt is PrimeGenesis’ managing director, and co-author of The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan (Wiley, 3rd edition 2011) and the freemium iPad app New Leader Smart Tools. Follow him at @georgebradt or on YouTube.

To read my interview of George, please click here.

To read my review of The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan, please click here.



Tuesday, May 15, 2012 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Three Steps to a Compelling Message

George Bradt

Here is an excerpt from an article written by George Bradt and featured by the Forbes magazine website. To read the complete article, please click here.

*     *     *

Compelling messages rarely appear out of thin air. Messages that make a real impact are the result of a lot of hard work, even though some business leaders and politicians seem to be able to create messages like magic. For the rest of us:

1. Depict the platform for change
2. Create a vision of a brighter future for your audience
3. Lay out a call to action

No one is going to change their attitudes or behaviors until they a) believe they can not keep doing what they were doing (inertia and fear of the unknown are powerful forces), b) see themselves in a better future, and c) know how they can be part of the solution. All three pieces must be in place for them to change and you must connect with your audience before they will even hear what you say. In particular, proactively converge and evolve when onboarding into a new role.

Platform for Change

External platforms for change trump internal platforms. People are far more receptive to changing in response to changes in their customers, collaborators, competitors or conditions, than by being told they themselves are not up to snuff. They get defensive when they are told they are the problem, but become engaged when they are told that something else has created a problem or opportunity for them to tackle.

This may be why the political party out of power has a relatively easier time establishing a platform for change. They can always default to blaming the party in power when things are not going well. Failing in that, they blame big businesses like Exxon Mobile. It’s simple and easy for others to understand, whether or not it’s actually true.

The current Republican candidates for president all agree that President Barack Obama is a problem. Messaging rooted in that has been consistent, even if it’s not sufficient.

*     *     *

This is a good example of step 5 of The New Leader’s Playbook: Drive Action by Activating and Directing an Ongoing Communication Network (Including Social Media)

Everything communicates. You can either make choices in advance about what and how you’re going to communicate or react to what others do. It is important to discover your own message and be clear on your platform for change, vision, and call to action before you start trying to inspire others. It will evolve as you learn, but you can’t lead unless you have a starting point to help focus those learning plans. Identify your target audiences. Craft and leverage your core message and master narrative. Monitor and adjust as appropriate on an ongoing basis.

*     *     *

Please click here to read about each step in the playbook. Please click here for YouTube videos highlighting each step. The New Leader’s Playbook includes the 10 steps that executive onboarding group PrimeGenesis uses to help new leaders and their teams get done in 100-days what would normally take six to twelve months.

*     *     *

George Bradt is PrimeGenesis’ managing director, and co-author of The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan (Wiley, 3rd edition 2011) and the iPad app New Leader Smart Tools. Follow him at @georgebradt or on YouTube.

Friday, March 23, 2012 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Five Tips to Facilitate Strategic Onboarding

George Bradt

Here is an article written by George Bradt for the “Talent Management Perspectives” series featured online by Talent Management magazine (March 2011). To check out all the website’s resources and sign up for a free subscription to TM and/or Chief Learning Officer magazine, please click here.

*     *     *

Your company is celebrating a great new hire – someone whose skills, experience and reputation precede him.

Now what? No one had fully expected him to say yes. No one was exactly sure what his responsibilities should be.

Now it’s time to figure that out. But now is way too late.

It’s not just about landing the best candidate. Part of hiring and onboarding employees is strategic planning. Attention must be paid to onboarding new employees so that they can deliver results that move the organization forward in line with its purpose and priorities.

To that end, here are some guidelines for talent leaders to bear in mind:

Start by stopping. Onboarding begins with business objectives. Start by getting managers to stop and figure out what they want to accomplish and how they expect their future new employees to deliver or contribute to target results.

Think business strategy. The company risks leaving a lot on the table if the people doing the hiring treat it as a transactional event as opposed to a strategic opportunity.

Here are three common phrases hiring managers should never accept without following up:

•    “Just fill the position.” Hang on. Will the positions as defined deliver the results the managers need? If not, this is a great time to push them to re-craft the jobs to further their business strategies.

•    “Find me the best candidate.” The best at what, precisely? Do they need the best skill set, or will the individual’s inherent behaviors and motivators be more important to delivery of business results than skills and experience?

Push senior leadership hard to complete their thinking before implementing anything, even a broad search initiative.

•    “I know what I need…” They may know what they need, but do they know what their stakeholders and their new employees’ stakeholders need? Without stakeholder alignment, they will never make the right hire because their new employees — no matter how great they are — will be burdened with incompatible expectations.

Onboarding is a strategic exercise in that it’s about building capabilities and capacity for the future. Thus no one can begin to recruit anyone until they understand how the new recruit’s role is going to help deliver results.

Clarify purpose and priorities. Begin with the organization’s general purpose and main priorities. That’s the big picture destination. Next, drill down to the specific destination for this onboarding. When managers onboard new employees, they are implementing strategies to achieve business objectives and should therefore treat new employee onboarding as they would any other investment. Define the business objective: Did they hire to replace, change the culture or add capabilities? What is their expected return on investment? How will they measure their return?

Check onboarding track record. Look back at any given manager’s onboarding track record to make sure he or she retains the tactics that proved successful in the past and work to enhance areas that need improvement.

Make sure everyone follows through. Push managers to lay out their messages so everyone understands purpose, priorities, responsibilities, required strengths and organizational values.

Managers oftentimes communicate with candidates more than they expect to during recruiting, interviewing and every subsequent step of onboarding. Intentional and inadvertent actions and inactions leave candidates or new hires with strong impressions, which is why it’s important for everyone to be on the same page – from before.

*     *     *

After his education at Harvard and Wharton, George Bradt progressed through sales, marketing and general management roles around the world at Fortune 500 companies including Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, and then J.D. Power and Associates as chief executive of its Power Information Network spin off. Today, he is managing director of PrimeGenesis, a consultancy focused on transition acceleration and executive onboarding. He is the author of The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan: How to Take Charge, Build Your Team, and Get Immediate Results as well as the co-author of Onboarding: How to Get Your New Employees Up to Speed in Half the Time. He can be reached at

Thursday, March 24, 2011 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 415 other followers

%d bloggers like this: