Niamh O’Keeffe, author of Got Promoted? Get Promoted. (Again), has some advice for the new head of ITV
Lights, camera, action…
Adam Crozier, former joint chief executive of Saatchi & Saatchi, former chief executive of the Football Association and current Royal Mail CEO, is leaving his position to take up an even more high-profile role at troubled media giant ITV. Some media commentators have described it as “a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire.”
The job certainly seems to be another tough brief for Crozier, a man who doesn't shy away from organisations with institutionalised challenges. ITV, like the Royal Mail, has a dense heritage of process and behaviour not easily transformed and is an institution in deep trouble with an urgent need to modernise if it wants to remain a major sector player.
Let’s face it, the city is watching, the media is ready to pounce; the staff is anxious… It’s a massive job. And so, as founder and MD of First100, a consultancy that specialises in 'first 100 days' advice for senior executives and CEOs, the obvious question I would pose is: "How should Adam Crozier tackle his first 100 days?"
First, let’s put in context why the first 100 days is an important stage in the role appointment lifecycle. Pace, or ‘performance acceleration’ as I call it, is the number one critical business issue for chief executives and political leaders in today’s economy. Faced with global uncertainty about whether we are in a V- or W-shaped recession, speed is the new black. A decade ago, a new leader would have arrived with a ten-year business plan and allowed it to unfold without much scrutiny from challengers. Nowadays, a two-year plan is considered long term, and Crozier will appreciate the crucial importance of his first 100 days within that shrinking time context.
Okay, so pace is important. But this is hardly a breakthrough insight and Crozier is no stranger to the CEO role, so what possible advice could I give him? I don't need to tell Crozier to act with pace, identify the right priorities, get the right team in place and stay focused on what's important. This is grist to the mill for an experienced chief executive like him. So what insight can I give him?
I spent some time reading the recent press coverage. Crozier is a dynamic guy, has the intellect, the ability to get things done but — and this is my insight — I wonder if he pays enough attention to his legacy right from the beginning?
His career history makes interesting reading, and I wonder whether now is the time for Crozier to reach his prime as a chief executive. He has had an accelerated career to the chief executive position, and perhaps he was promoted too fast — so much so, that his 'growing up' was done in the role rather then in advance of the role. With this in mind, I would urge Adam Crozier to invest a lot more time in upfront thinking about his leadership legacy this time round. And, fortunately, he has the time before he takes up the ITV role.
So, here are my top three tips for Crozier:
1. Invest more time upfront thinking about your legacy.
Take stock of your career, and start with the end in mind this time. What do you want to have achieved at ITV by the end of your tenure? Do you have any regrets from previous chief executive posts? What are the lessons learned, and how can you approach this role armed with the wisdom and experience of previous leadership roles? Are you still open to change, to challenge?
2. Envisage a two-year role horizon:
Once you have decided on your legacy as CEO of ITV, then envisage a two-year role horizon to inject a sense of pace and urgency into your thought processes and plans. Imagine that you only have two years to make a difference. Within that timeframe, what would you like to have achieved on Vision & Strategy, People & Teams, Results & Deliverables? It doesn't matter if you plan to stay longer, you can always refresh your plans at the end of two years.
3. Don't write your First 100 Days plan yet.
Repeat steps 1 and 2, until you are very sure of the leadership legacy you wish to leave behind, and until you are very sure of your two-year plan as the first step to achieving that legacy. And so, although I am the founder of First100, my urgent advice to Adam Crozier is don't write your First 100 Days plan yet!
Got Promoted? Get Promoted. (Again) is published by First 100 Ltd and is available from Amazon, rrp. £25.00. For more information on the First 100 accelerated performance programme for leaders visit first100.co.uk.
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