Our Noonday team recently identified three key focus areas for leaders stepping into critical roles. While statistics predict many newly-appointed leaders will struggle, some defy the odds and get off to a flying start. We conducted a survey that provides advice to organizations bringing leaders into vital roles.

The recent study captured opinions of leaders from a wide variety of organizations about critical areas of focus for incoming leaders. Respondents rated and commented on the importance of ten actions leaders can take over their first 90 days.

Of all the possible actions, three stood above the rest as most useful for starting fast. More than 90% of respondents advised focusing on building productive working relationships with key colleagues. More than 85% said that creating a clear plan for the ensuing year was one of the most important outcomes from the first three months. Nearly 80% recommended staying focused on a few important business projects to build credibility and momentum toward those full-year plans.

What most struck us in the study results? The emphasis on slowing down. Many executives feel incredible pressure to hurry up and get something done when they step into a new role. The clear feedback from this peer group argues for something different: going slow to go fast.

This input lines up well with what we hear from executives whose leadership roles didn’t work out as they had hoped. They often jumped right into tasks – fixing broken projects, creating new strategies, in essence trying to look like they’re doing big things – and realized in hindsight that they should have focused on taking big steps with people and smaller steps with tasks during their first days in the new position.

We’re always looking for more input into this study. If you want to share your experience, click here to take the short survey. All participants will receive a complementary copy of the study results.