Shoes representing a leader hitting the ground running


A non-profit leader I coach recently told me that his chair had asked for a 100-day plan before he started in his new CEO role.


He wasn’t keen, and the request frustrated me, too. It suggests that leaders have all the answers. That they can go flying in to a new appointment with a ready-made plan.


This isn’t the best way to head into in a leadership role, even if you’ve been brought in to shake things up. And I really don’t think it has to be like this.


After all, ‘hit the ground running’ – my least favourite phrase ever – is not actually in any one’s job description. The most effective leaders will be actively listening, watching and learning in their first few weeks, so that they can take the temperature of the organisation and build positive relationships while finding their feet.


Here is what I suggest for your first 100 days:


1. Talk with as many people as you can.

When you hear from people throughout the organisation, not just the senior team, you’ll get a wealth of useful info and build trust from the get-go. Set up 20-minute coffees with staff, and listen, really listen, to what they have to say. No justifications. No ‘yes, buts’.

Be sure you ask these 3 key questions:

1. How can I best help you to do your job?
2. What do you think the organisation does well and not so well?
3. What would you do if you were in my shoes?


a meeting representing a leader not hitting the ground running


2. Set your own personal development goals.


Set goals for what you’d personally like to achieve, but don’t necessarily share them. These are for you.


3. Look for ‘easy wins’.

Look for wins which aren’t about barging in and ‘fixing’ things but still show how deeply capable and resourced you are – chairing a difficult meeting with skill, making a tricky decision quickly and firmly, setting clear boundaries about your working hours. These small things add up to important deposits in the long-term trust bank.


When you work with me on my Gold Leadership Coaching programme we quickly dispel the myth that leadership is about going in with all gun’s blazing to prove yourself.


If you’re tired of feeling you should be doing things faster and harder, email me at to schedule a chat about how coaching with me will allow you do your best work, your way.