Monster Thinking

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June 2013

How to be Your Most Successful in a New Executive Position

The following answers are provided by members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.

What one piece advice would you offer someone who is about to take on an executive or high-level position for the first time?

1. Be Cool Be confident, but stay humble. Trust your gut. Make time for working out and being with your family. Remember, you aren’t that important, so get over yourself already! - Jordan Fliegel, CoachUp, Inc. 2. Nail Down Your KPIs It's impossible to win a race when you aren't sure where the finish line is. And in high-profile leadership roles, the same thing applies: know what is expected of you. I recommend anyone joining a new company to develop a one-month, three-month and six-month set of key performance indicators (KPIs). It's a guide that's early but will be very helpful to set expectations. - Eric Koester, Zaarly 3. Know What You Don't Know Nothing is worse than a new executive who acts like she knows the nuts and bolts of a company when she doesn't. Get ready to admit what you don't know! Asking for help, engaging with the support team under you and putting in time and effort will show everyone at the company that you are willing to roll up your sleeves, get dirty and dive in. - Kim Kaupe, 'ZinePak 4. Align Your Culture With the Other Leaders Make sure your culture aligns with the other leaders. No matter how much money is thrown at you, your life will be miserable if you are in a constant battle on culture and vision. - John Hall, Influence & Co. 5. Get Over Yourself and Trust Others As my company started to grow, I realized that I needed to assume the role of a creative director: someone who does not necessarily design everything by hand on his own, but instead leads a team to execute the work. As a designer, this was a huge challenge, but I soon found that allowing others to excel at what they were good at resulted in even more amazing results. - Matthew Manos, verynice 6. Spend Time With Your Predecessors Unless there's a political reason not to, spending time with the people who held your position previously is a great way to understand what you're walking into. Even if you don't agree personally or were a replacement for someone because of a business failure, having someone who's "been there, done that" can provide vital insight. If nothing else, you will know how to avoid their mistakes! - Michael Costigan, Youth Leadership Specialist 7. Know That You Can't Turn It Around Day One Resist the temptation to implement all your ideas immediately. Remember to get the buy-in of your team, and the implementation will become 10 times easier. To get the buy-in, spend time with the members and help them see that your vision is the easiest path forward for the company and the teams you work with. It cannot be done quickly, or your changes will be short-lived. - Robby Hill, HillSouth 8. Talk the Walk Chances are, you will be thrown into a whirlwind of metrics, analysis, strategic discussions and unknown waters. No amount of data or internal conversations will help give you the most important pulse: insights into your customers. I tell every first-time or new company exec to spend time talking to at least 20 customers to ramp up and add context to everything you are learning and building. - Matt Ehrlichman, Porch 9. Choose Your Team Wisely Don’t compromise when it comes to hiring your direct reports. These will be the people you interact with every day, and they will ultimately be responsible for carrying out your vision. - Robert J. Moore, RJMetrics 10. Think Like a Consultant for the First 30 to 60 Days Instead of diving into solutions on the first day, a good consultant takes time -- meets people, reads information, talks to customers -- and then triangulates all the input into a plan. If you approach it this way, you are more likely to be right, make fewer rookie mistakes and have people be more honest with you. - Suzanne Smith, Social Impact Architects
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