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How to reduce your risk of failure as a new CEO

As an executive onboarding into a new role, do not trust your first impressions and instincts. Instead, stop and apply more deliberate thinking to create the personal onboarding plan your completely different job and situation requires in addition to your enterprise plans.

New CEOs should focus on strategy development and execution, resource allocation, performance management and people choices.

Here’s what it’s been learned through interviews with 20 current and former CEOs. About 50% of CEOs from large public companies say that the role was “Not what I expected beforehand.” This may explain why so many new CEOs fail early on. Among the biggest mistakes that can cause new CEOs to stumble:

Assuming the role is a “bigger” version of what they’ve done before, and that success will come from doubling down on what worked in previous roles, when the job is in fact fundamentally different; not focusing enough on managing stakeholders (internal and external) which is as, or perhaps more, important than hitting financial targets because it buys you time.

Failing to move fast enough on getting the right management team in place.

Managing their time, but not managing their energy, when it’s the latter that really matters for personal success.

Spending too much time micro-managing, trying to be a “player” rather than a “coach”. Not understanding, managing and leveraging the information mismatches that inevitably exist “downwards” between CEOs and their direct reports, and “upwards” between CEOs, Boards, and external stakeholders; and Failing to fully exploit the limited number of levers in their complete control vision/strategy, resource allocation, key hiring decisions, and performance management.

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