Messages of New Leaders

Remarkable swag of new leaders installed in recent months! Presidents in China, France and North Korea; revolving doors of Prime Ministers, especially in Europe; a Pope and an Archbishop of Canterbury; and in New Zealand, new CEOs in several Top Twenty companies. It is interesting to study the way each new leader manages the First Hundred Days, establishing the expectation and change platform with his / her constituents and publics. As we have them via media, the key messages are simple, appealing and articulated in many sophisticated ways and forums. Xi Jinping’s Chinese Dream, Francois Hollande’s “soak the rich”, and Kim Jongun’s American Bogeyman distractor are clearly communicated. Pope Francis focuses on Poverty, Humility and Peace; Justin Welby on a cautious, faith-based approach to doctrinal conflict. Our industrial CEOs also give clarity of message: Mark Adamson seeks productivity through logistic synergies; Simon Moutter cuts his cloth to competitive realities; Theo Spierings drives shareholder payouts and unit-holder returns, shaping his branded merchandise to the China (growth markets) opportunity; Chris Luxon is tough on quality travel experience and route viability.

All these new leaders will have constructed their messages appropriate to their environment, their SWOT, their stakeholders and their own values. They will have chosen the right approach, media and symbols to carry their message delivery; they will have ensured powerful first impressions and quick wins; they will have scheduled a multi-targeted series of communication points to reinforce their core message; they will project trustworthiness, authenticity and courage; and they will describe pathways to the desired changed state. Winning hearts and minds is the transformational task – so that a majority of their people accept WHTBD, adopting behaviours and attitudes of perseverance and engagement that overcome difficulties. Winston Churchill’s 1940 and 1941 speeches are worth re-reading in this context.

We want all well-intentioned leaders to succeed, delivering strategic progress and economic performance wisely and sustainably. But a surprising 40% of new leaders fail in their first 18 months(Fortune Feb 2012, A. Fisher). Of course, many reasons for this, but a strong First 100 Days is vital. is worth a visit. Lead on!