Why A New Leader’s First Actions Really Matter

Your first actions as a new leader are crucially important. They set the tone for your leadership style and strategy. They show what you’re all about. They can help you to affirm that you are the right person for the role. Importantly, they need to be the right actions.

Often the right action is not to leap in and make changes. Remember the hare and the tortoise? Slow and steady can be the best tactic to employ. Instead of making impulsive decisions and radical changes, taking the time to take stock and gather information on your new team(s) can garner the best results in the long run.

We were interested to read in the Harvard Business Review that nearly three-quarters of leaders admit to being unprepared for their new role, and that nearly half of them ‘disappoint or fail’ in the first 18 months. Their suggested approach resonated with us at PCS – gather information early so that you can make informed decisions rather than making assumptions based on your previous experience.

As Constance Dierickx wrote in the Harvard Business Review:

Leaders’ actions in the early days of their roles create an impression that’s hard to shake later. Managing the urge to make an early mark, gleaning information from all parts of the organization, and deciding on your primary area of focus will help you build the knowledge and political capital you need to succeed in your new position.

One employee that we spoke to recalled the first actions of a new CEO at their company. The new leader was a surprise hire given his lack of track record in the area and relative inexperience. His first email to his staff was intended to motivate and show that he meant business. In it, he instructed the members of his media company that, under his leadership, they must wear corporate dress which included ties. This, his first message to his staff and his first mark of change, served to prove his lack of awareness of the industry in which they worked, showed how little he understood the feelings of his teams and their priorities. Needless to say, it set him off on the wrong foot and turned his staff against him. He lasted less than 12 months in the role.

As a new leader, you will want to show that you are equipped to make the necessary changes and improvements to your business to boost its results. Our experience shows that the best move you can make is to learn about your team(s) – your most valuable resource – and how they feel about their workplace and management. Once you know what’s working well and what isn’t, you can focus your attention on the most important areas and make real impact. The information that you gain from working with PCS enables you to implement the changes that result in tangible cost efficiencies, improvements in process and an obvious return on investment. Now that is the mark of a powerful, credible leader.

Find out more about the PCS offering and how it can help your business at

Zac's Challenges:

Zac’s tech business is growing rapidly. He’s gone from being a developer with a good idea to now overseeing an ever-expanding team. Zac knows that in order for the business to grow successfully, it needs to stay true to its founding values and his staff need to feel valued and engaged. Zac wants to understand if he and his team are on the same page and he needs to do it quickly and cost effectively.

Zac's PCS Solution

Zac decides to use PCS Lite to get a quick temperature check of how his team are performing and what they think about the business. The PCS Lite report quickly surfaces the fact that his team have lost sight of the organisation’s purpose and goals. Zac realises that he needs to improve his on-boarding processes and help orientate the new team members better in the company culture and vision. 6 months later, Zac uses PCS Lite to check his new onboarding process is working; concludes that the growing team are much better aligned to his vision and are generally operating in a more positive working environment.

Annabel's Challenges:

It’s Annabel’s job to help the Partners in the firm manage their clients and ensure they’re consistently adding value. Recently, Annabel has been asked by one of the Partners to find a tool or framework that the consultants can use to benchmark new clients looking for team and leadership improvement programmes. It needs to be cost-effective, established and reputable and able to be branded with the firm’s own logo.

Annabel's PCS Solution

Annabel recommends PCS Pro to the Senior Partners as it provides an objective measurement of team and leadership climate against which the consultants can build performance improvement programmes. PCS has a good track record, academic validation, excellent training and customer service, so she’s confident that it’s the right tool for the firm’s consultants to use.

Sarah's Challenges:

Sarah has to keep across the multiple training and development needs in the organisation and do it within a tight budget. Recently, Sarah’s been asked to design a L&D programme that improves the staff retention rate and helps staff feel more engaged with the changes happening in the organisation, not least the shift to more flexible working.

Sarah's PCS Solution

Sarah uses PCS to measure how different teams across the organisation are performing and look at any patterns which suggest the need for organisation-wide, leader or team training. Sarah notices that all teams and leaders have a low climate score in the Processes segment. Sarah knows that allocating budget in this area will improve performance. She works with the Senior Management Team to review the organisation’s processes as they transition to more flexible working and designs a training programme to support staff in the transition. She’s helped staff to feel supported, acknowledged and engaged which ultimately drives performance. 

Jim's Challenges:

Jim’s client has a team that’s not performing as well other teams in the organisation. The team has a high staff turnover, sickness and the lack of cohesion is impacting the team’s wellbeing and performance. Jim needs to get to the bottom of why this is happening and design effective coaching interventions which can generate tangible results for his client.

Jim's PCS Solution

Jim uses PCS Pro to measure / benchmark how the team and leader are performing across the 6 segments critical to team performance – Goals, Roles, Processes, Adaptability, Connection and Resilience. He can immediately see the disparity in Goals, Processes and Connection between the leader’s perception and those of her team. He uses this information to build a coaching programme designed align team and leader. After 6 months, the team seems to be more settled and productive. Jim remeasures using PCS Pro – the results show the client the effectiveness of his coaching intervention.