03 May, 2010

Maternal Leadership: the first 90 days

I’m struck again by the relevance of thinking on leadership transitions to the new mother’s return to work. Michael Watkins’ 2003 book (The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels: HBS Press, 2003) offers advice for the leader who is new in post and is also highly relevant here.
The return to work looks a lot like the new leader’s first 90 days in this HBS Working Knowledge interview by Senior Editor, Martha Legace
The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels (HBS Press, 2003).
The extract from Watkins’ book, further down the page, offers a helpful list of points of focus.

In the HBS interview with Martha Legace, Watkins says:
“Transitions also are times when small differences in a new leader’s actions can have disproportionate impacts on results. Everyone is straining to take the leader’s measure and people are forming opinions based on very little information. It’s a bit like starting high school; those early impressions, right or wrong, can really stick. And the stakes are high. Failure to create momentum during the first few months guarantees an uphill battle for the rest of their tenure in the job. Building credibility and securing some early wins lays a firm foundation for longer-term success.”
Just as the description of transition sounds familiar, the advice for new leaders extracted from the book is also very sound for the returning mother who wishes to make an impact and work out where to focus her (limited) time and energy.