How to Double Your Success in Your First Year as a Point Leader

How to Double Your Success in Your First Year as a Point Leader
Thomas Thompson
April 12, 2022
min read

The First 90 Days.

Whether you are the new Executive Director, the incoming CEO, or the newly installed Lead Pastor, we’ve ALL heard the criticality of the initial 3 months leading an organization.  

The decisions we make, the things we say, the actions we take–and DON’T take–sets the tone for success or failure.

And these 3 months are compounded by the reality that the Point Leader is still navigating a transition out of their old role and into this new one.

A recent McKinsey and Company article highlights the challenge:

Executive transitions are typically high-stakes, high-tension events: when asked to rank life’s challenges in order of difficulty, the top one is “making a transition at work”—ahead of bereavement, divorce, and health issues. –McKinsey and Company

And amidst the high tension for the leader are the high stakes for the ORGANIZATION.  The same article highlights that:  

  • Nine out of ten teams whose leader had a successful transition go on to meet their three-year performance goals.
  • Successful transition by the leader means attrition is 13% lower, but when the leader stumbles, direct report attrition is 20% MORE likely.  
  • Only 29% of US leaders feel their organizations have adequate support then in their first year.
  • Two years after an Executive transition, 27-46% of transitions are regarded as failures or disappointments.

In my own experience, transitioning to a lead role–even ones I felt ready for–required me to face the hard reality that what got me here would not get me there.

To lead others at the next level, I would have to level up how I led MYSELF.

  • How to carry the weight of the new role
  • Identifying the gaps being exposed in my own leadership
  • How to maintain focus on who and what matters most
  • Building “chips” in my first year
  • Learning to accurately assess who and what I had to work with

And the biggest mistake I made in leveling up was thinking I could level up all on my OWN.

Oh, I wasn't totally alone.  I had LOTS of people around me telling me what to do, what they thought the most important problems were, and what the organization really needed most.

But what I DIDN'T have was someone to help me navigate the noise and keep me focused on who and what mattered most.

What if you could double your percentage of success in your first year?

Tailored executive coaching has been shown to double the likelihood of success.  –McKinsey and Company

What could happen if you invested in Executive Coaching for your new Point Leader?  A Trusted Advisor to walk alongside them in year one who can:

  • Help you assess your team accurately, 
  • Capture your realistic vision for the first year, 
  • Identify the obstacles (both external and internal, facing you, and
  • Keep you implementing and executing your vision.

What saved my bacon in my first years of executive transition was having a coach who was on MY side, a safe place to process what I was thinking and who challenged me towards my best leadership.

Stepping in to a new role requires intentional coaching around 5 key areas during that first year:

1. Unpacking What Got You Here

…How are you going to leverage your wiring and unique leadership strengths?  How will you unload the baggage and unhelpful practices from your last role?  

2. Getting Honest about Your Leadership Level.

…Where are your blind spots?  What’s the biggest personal leadership hurdle for you to clear?  As you lead others, where do you need to first lead yourself? 

3. Assessing What you have to Work With

…Is your team in the right seats, or even the right bus?   How do you relate to your Board and key stakeholders?  What are you discovering that is different from what you were told coming in?

4.  Identifying the Current Culture 

…What are the ACTUAL values that drive your team?  Where are they aligned–or misaligned–with the values you want to instill? How will you begin to shift the culture?


5. Gaining Clarity on What’s Next

…Is there clarity around WHY your organization exists, HOW they differentiate from others, WHAT the key activities they should do each day, WHO does what, and WHAT is most important right now?

The greatest leadership pain I felt in 25 years of leading organizations was that I didn't have someone outside the organization to help me navigate.  


Whether you are stepping into the Point Leader Role, or the Point Leader has put YOU in a new leadership seat, I’d love to come alongside you to ensure your first year is a success.  

Let’s have a discovery conversation to clarify the gap between where you are and where you want to go in Executive Year One.

Thomas helps leaders navigate what’s next in their lives, leadership, and teams.  If he can serve you in this, reach out to him HERE.

Photo by Marcos Paulo Prado on Unsplash

I founded Thompson Leadership to come alongside leaders like you. Together, we will unpack your unique leadership, unearth your biggest challenge, and create an action plan to close the gap between where you are and where you want to be.
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