Your First 90 Days: How to Start Your New Leadership Role Right.

Your first 90 days in a new leadership role are critical for success. Linda Yaccarino did it wrong at Twitter. So, how do you do it right?
Your first 90 days are critical to leadership success. In this image, a diverse group of business leaders in professional attire, stand confidently in front of a red wall with the number 90 in Bold. Source: Midjourney.

Your first 90 days in a new leadership role are critical to your success. So, how do you do it right?


  • Linda Yaccarino’s first 90 days at “X” is an example of what NOT to do
  • Focus on 3 Perspectives: People, Products, and Processes
  • Plan according to 3 Periods: Days 1-30, 31-60, and 61-90
  • Apply 7 Principles: Selflessness, Empathy, Resolve, Virtuousness, Authenticity, Nonpartisanship, and Thoroughness

Linda Yaccarino Exemplified What NOT to Do

Linda Yaccarino is about to pass day 90 at “X” (formerly known as Twitter). She’s exemplifies a bad approach. In a period when she should focus on learning the people, products, and processes, Ms. Yaccarino instead focuses on publicity campaigns and making promises with little to no supporting evidence.

Do not spend your first 90 days making promises, public proclamations, or setting visions. Instead, learn the people, products, and processes. Then you can plan the future.

3 Perspectives: People, Products, & Processes

In your first 90 days, you need to learn the organization from 3 distinct perspectives: People, Products, and Processes. You’ll focus on specific areas of each at different periods in your first 90 days.


You want to meet and build relationships with as many people as possible. These include internal employees at various levels, external customers and partners, and other key stakeholders like regulators, consultants, vendors, and more.


Products include the hard goods and services the organization provides. It also includes internal products like IT systems, manufacturing tools, data sources, and more.


Workflows, planning, and even politics follow under this perspective. We may not want to think about politics as we begin our exciting new role, but they are a reality best understood early.

3 Periods: Days 1-30, 31-60, and 61-90

You don’t want to meet with key customers on day 1. Instead, begin by meeting the team, learning internal products and services as well as their strengths and weaknesses. Then you’re prepared for external conversations.

Days 1 – 30

In your first 30 days, be a sponge. Soak up as much knowledge as possible. Ask lots of questions and simply listen. Focus on the people, products, and processes that are closest to you – we call these “first degree topics”.

Days 31 – 60

Armed with a basic understanding of key products and personnel, you can look beyond the immediate circle. Meet as many internal people as possible and learn as much about products and processes across the organization as possible.

Days 61 – 90

With an understanding of products and services, plus internal relationships, you can look to external people, products, and processes. You can also begin developing and validating your year one plans.

7 Principles: Selflessness, Empathy, Resolve, Virtuousness, Authenticity, Nonpartisanship, and Thoroughness

Perspectives were the “who” and “what”. Periods were when. Principles are how you lead during the 90 days. These 7 principles are based on the Acronym Model of SERVANT Leadership®. These principles have been taught and practiced by the greatest leadership teachers and practitioners for centuries. The model stems from 2 decades of study, encompassing dozens of leadership frameworks and hundreds of attributes. All principles should be applied throughout the 90 days (and beyond). However, there are periods where some principles are emphasized more than others…

  • Selflessness: If you’re selfish, you’re not leading. Put people first, build teams, and be a steward. This is especially important in Days 1-30 and 61-90.
  • Empathy: Actively listen to understand and appreciate people’s greatest challenges. This is especially important in Days 31-60.
  • Resolve: Have courage and be a pioneer. Hold yourself accountable. This principle is emphasized in days 61-90.
  • Virtuousness: Serve a higher purpose than yourself. Be trustworthy and optimistic. Especially focus on this principle in days 31-60.
  • Authenticity: Be self-aware and consistent. Collaborate with others. We coach clients to emphasize this principle in Days 1-30 and 61-90.
  • Nonpartisanship: Be open to new ideas from anyone, anywhere, at almost any time. This is more important Days 31-60 and 61-90.
  • Thoroughness: Think in terms of systems and prioritize long-term results over short-term quick wins. This is especially important Days 31-60 and 61-90.

Your 90 Day Roadmap

Below is a slide from our free 90 Day Onboarding presentation. It’s an overview of the 90 days, with specific points of emphasis on People, Products, Processes, and Principles by Period. Of course, every situation is unique. If you or your organization is interested in 90 Day Coaching for greater success, contact Ben Lichtenwalner MBA.

A 90 Day Roadmap for New Hire and Promoted Leaders.

This post also appeared on our LinkedIn newsletter at:


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Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner is the founder and principal of Modern Servant Leader and Radiant Forest, LLC. He has studied and promoted servant leadership awareness and adoption for over 20 years. He is the author of 2 leadership books and has 2 decades of corporate management and leadership experience. His corporate experience spans CIO, VP, Director, and many management roles at Fortune 500, INC 500, and Nonprofits. Ben’s education includes a B.S. in Management Science & Information Systems from Penn State University and an MBA from Lehigh University. Ben's Full Profile Here: About Ben Lichtenwalner

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