First Assimilate, Then Disrupt

5 Tips For Starting A New Job As The Boss

A good friend of mine recently accepted an incredibly exciting executive role with a new company.

In talking over the opportunity with her, I shared some of the experiences I've had starting new roles in new companies over the course of my career.

As someone who has struggled through these transitions in the past, I shared a few of the hard-learned lessons, in hopes that it would save her some of the stumbles I’ve experienced myself.

To that end, I’d like to share those lessons with you as well.

5 Tips For Starting A New Job As The Boss

#1 Learn The People First, Then The Position

When you come into a new company, you'll no doubt feel anxious, as you're the new person who doesn't know how things operate. If you're competitive and driven, you'll want to get up to speed ASAP.

While your natural instinct may be to focus on learning the position, and seeking to understand the role and operations of the organization, the first thing you need to focus on is learning the people. 

Relationships will make or break your time at this new company and will determine how much you get done and how far your team can go. Before you learn about the business, learn about the team. Lean in and prioritize the people first and let everything else follow. 

#2 Go On A Listening Tour

The first thing you should do in a new role at a new company is conduct a structured listening tour. Meet with as many people as possible over the first few weeks, making time for folks above you, below you, as well as your peers. 

In these meetings, ask open ended questions and learn about people’s individual stories, including what brought them here and what keeps them here. Don’t be shy about asking what’s working, what isn’t, and what advice they have for you.

Listen deeply and collect and consolidate the feedback you get and you’ll be well on your way to understanding where the organization is, what it needs, and how you can help.

#3 Deliver Your Go Forward Plan

Based on everything you learn during your listening tour, develop and deliver a Go Forward Plan. 

A Go Forward Plan is a simple, but powerful tool that includes: 

  • Current State: Where the Team Is

  • Future State: Where the Team Should Go

  • Gap Analysis: Future State - Current State

  • Go Forward Plan: The Plan to Get to Future State

When done effectively, Go Forward Plans consolidate the feedback you received during your listening tour and deliver a powerful narrative on where the team will go under your leadership.

#4 Take On Less and Do More

When developing your Go Forward Plan, you’ll want to do it all, solve every problem, deliver on every need. But whatever you do, don’t set out to boil the ocean.

A good Go Forward Plan is modest, but meaningful. You want to be intentional with what you take on and ensure you deliver on what you say. Everyone is watching, so it’s better to take on less and do it right. If you do, in the end you’ll end up achieving a lot more.

#5 Be Excited

Finally, it’s really important to remember that one of the best things you can bring to a new job is energy. Many of the folks you’ll be working with will have been at the organization for some time and may be in various stages of settlement. Share with them why you’re there and what it was about the organization that drove you to join the team. Remind them why what they do matters, fan the flames inside them, and make them believe that the best is yet to come.


Coming into a new organization as the boss is never easy. If you care about what you do, you'll no doubt doubt yourself occasionally and find yourself second guessing your decisions as you get out of the gate.

Remember that it's a privilege to lead others and strive to pursue purpose, rather than perfection. Be kind to yourself. You're on a bumpy, windy, but incredibly rewarding road.

Editor’s Note

A version of today’s newsletter was previously published on LinkedIn. If we aren’t connected on LinkedIn yet, please don’t hesitate to send me a request here. I’m always down to connect.