First 100 Days: 7 Steps for new leaders, and Mr Johnson


Pic: inews

Step 1 Google “leadership”  

Leadership is about helping other people to shine. Leaders make a lasting impact through others.

A fruitful read on this topic is HBRs 10 Must Reads On Leadership: Goleman, Drucker, Kotter, Heifetz & Laurie, Goffee & Jones, Bennis & Thomas, Collins (Jim), Rooke & Torbert, George/Sims/McLean/Mayer and Ancona/Malone/Orlikowski/Senge. 

They can’t all be wrong. 

Mr Johnson may also benefit from reading or re-reading Cabinet’s Finest Hour: The Hidden Agenda of May 1940 by David Owen. 

Whether you read the leadership books or not, remember that if you behave as “Head Of” you will have a different outcome than if you behave as a leader. 

Step 2 Know, well, the people you lead

Each is unique. So each has different needs in order to thrive. Know their needs and their personal purpose. Your leadership will thrive too. 

The assumption that bosses have rights and no obligations towards the unique characters they lead is one which lands many leaders in trouble, often to their own surprise. 

Step 3 Publish your personal purpose 

Tell everyone why you want to lead them. Be clear and honest about your personal motivation. Otherwise, you won’t gain their trust. 

And without trust, you can forget about receiving discretionary effort. 

Without discretionary effort, your leadership is doomed. 

Step 4 Agree on a shared team purpose

Don’t rush this.

Later, when team conflicts arise, as they will, you will resolve these faster if the process for agreeing your team purpose is rigorous and genuinely shared by all without exception and without pressure. 

Step 5 Agree on a shared strategy 

Spend as much time on strategy as you do on purpose. It’s difficult for people to whinge later if they coauthored the strategy.

Don’t confuse a strategy with a plan. A strategy is about how, in headline terms, you achieve your shared purpose. A plan is about how you implement your strategy.

Step 6 Agree on conduct principles 

Conduct is the collective behaviour of you and your team over time in the implementation of your shared strategy to achieve your shared purpose. 

The highest risk you face is conduct risk. Mitigate it by agreeing on a tough code of behaviour from the “get-go”. Legislate for its breach. 

Conduct Risk should be No 1 on your Risk  Register. Make sure your GC owns the Register. If the GC doesn’t understand business risk, teach them. Don’t separate business risk from legal risk. They’re interdependent. 

Step 7 Track and RAG your relationships 

List your key relationships. RAG these regularly against your shared team purpose. You are likely to have at least one Red and several Amber relationship events in the early weeks of your First Hundred Days. 

The manner in which you convert your first Red event to Green and prevent your early Amber events from turning Red will be key tests for your leadership longevity and success.

So how does this apply to Mr Johnson?

He believes that he has a clear purpose shared by his new cabinet. 

But “leaving on 31 October” isn’t a purpose. Neither is it a strategy. It’s a policy. So our new PM – whose duty is to the 100% not just the 52, has articulated no purpose at all for his government. Therefore he has no strategy 

He leads, whether he likes it or not, all the other MPs in his party. He cannot cherrypick who he leads. He will neglect those at great risk. 

Crashing out of the EU out requires nothing more strategic than having the neck to do nothing. 

His speech was silent on post-Brexit purpose and strategy other than optimism, which is neither a purpose nor a strategy. It’s a feeling. 

It will be his conduct (and his cabinet’s) that will do him in, based on past form. It’s merely a matter of when not if, he misbehaves. It gives me no pleasure to write this because we will all suffer. 

If you are a new leader this month, what’s your prediction for your First Hundred Days? 

You can exert more control over those crucial days if you commit to linking personal and organisational PSB – purpose, strategy and behaviour.  

You and Mr Johnson should carefully manage your “B” if you want to achieve your “P”.

Make sense? 

Ciarán Fenton 


Coverage of Deutsche’s woes exposes the “purpose” movement’s dilemma.

“What is sad for 20,000 bankers and traders, compliance and support staff is good news for investors who have seen their shares fall 80 per cent in 10 years. It should be a relief, too, for the German taxpayer, who has remained the ultimate backstop for this hulking “too big to fail” institution” wrote Tom Braithwaite in the Financial Times last week.

“Sad”, Tom? Are you serious?

I felt sad when my daughter’s goldfish died. The word “sad” in this context doesn’t quite cut it for me, let alone I suspect for any one of the 20,000 – since recalculated at 18,000 but, hey, what’s 2000 jobs, give or take? – who will lose their jobs.

“Relief”, really? Will the German taxpayer be “relieved” that they may be better off because 18,000 people are losing their jobs?

I suspect a German taxpayer who happens to work for Deutsche Bank and is about to be “made redundant” may indeed have mixed feelings about these words, to put it mildly.

But journalists are not to be blamed. They reflect only the norms that society share. These norms are highlighted again today in the FT as it ran the story on its front page, this time with the emphasis on the “bad bank” angle. The human toll, although still noted, slipping in importance.

Try as I might, I couldn’t find any reflective opinion piece on the job losses on the inside pages.

I suppose that’s to be expected, given the implicit assumption that the “radical overhaul” has market approval, albeit “scant comfort to investors who have sunk €30bn into the bank…only to see its share price plunge – and confirmed that it would not pay a dividend for the next two years”.

The CEO, Christian Sewing, said the “sizeable workforce reductions” will require uncomfortable decisions…Today we have announced the most fundamental transformation…[to] restore the reputation of Deutsche Bank”.

“Uncomfortable decisions” for whom? I hope he means the 18000.

“Fundamental transformation”? Does he mean that the bank which will soon have 74,000 employees instead of 91,500 will be “fundamentally” different in behaviour terms from the bank that exists today and had, for example, “643 employees earning more than €1m last year”?

It looks like the market and the FT views letting go of 18,000 people, setting up a €74 bn ‘bad bank’, and a target of €6bn in “cost cuts” as a recipe for “transformation”. No need for editorial comment. Job done.

That would be understandable if at the same time many well-known gladiators of capitalism are not currently focused on the importance of “doing business with a social purpose”.

“Ethical investments” are all the rage. Soon we will be in the embarrassing position whereby ethical investment funds will be bigger than, er, the others.

If you sit on a board, no matter how small or large, how should you read Deutche’s news and its coverage in terms of its value for you?

I suggest that you start by being honest with yourself first, if not with your colleagues, that nothing fundamental will change in your business unless and until your “license to trade” includes a requirement to satisy environment, society and governance factors before profit considerations.

ESG costs money. If it didn’t, we’d all be at it, ages ago.

Unless and until this approach becomes the norm, all the talk about business with a social purpose is just that. Talk.

In Deutsche Bank’s case, an ESG approach to decision-making might have confronted what Tom Braithwaite referred to in his piece as “an enduring Deutsche problem: ‘If you don’t have $100m by the time you’re 40, you’re a failure”.

This is a board decision-making behaviour issue. Nothing else.

Had Christian Sewing announced that “we will transform the bank by addressing the behaviour that led us here” then I suspect the FT might have been shocked into writing an opinion piece. The market might have been stunned.

But, to be fair, he is doing only what is expected of him.

He didn’t do otherwise. And until CEOs and boards like him and his, and you and yours do, then – sadly – the purpose movement is destined to spin its wheels.