Before you jump into that leadership role, read this

Starting a new job as an executive is exciting and overwhelming. You are entering a new role or organization, and making a solid first impression is essential. There is a tendency to “jump right in” and make big decisions thinking you need to prove they made the right decision picking you. That would be a big mistake because the first few weeks in a new job can set the tone for your tenure, and you don’t want those first few weeks to include naive decisions. So, it is vital to onboard yourself before initiating any significant changes.

Here are some steps you can take to onboard yourself when starting a new job as an executive:

  1. Research the organization and its culture: Before your first day, take the time to research the organization’s culture, values, and goals. If you are new to the organization, review the website, social media pages, and news articles to better understand the history, products, and services. If this is a promotion into a senior leadership role, take time to understand the backstory of the new department.
  2. Understand your role and responsibilities: Get clarity about the responsibilities and expectations for your new position. Familiarize yourself with your job description and the key performance indicators (KPIs) that you will be measured against.
  3. Meet with your team: Schedule discovery meetings with your direct reports, colleagues, and key stakeholders to introduce yourself and learn more about them, their roles, and their responsibilities. Your goal is to know what each of them does, what inspires them, what they are struggling with, and how you can better support their efforts. I have found meeting with your direct report’s staff as an excellent way to understand the leadership communication style of each of your direct reports. This builds loyalty, relationships, and a holistic understanding of the organization’s structure and work ethic. These interviews will also reveal who will likely be your allies and those with a different agenda that might undermine your efforts.
  4. Listen and ask questions: During your meetings, listen carefully to what others say, ask thoughtful questions, and take notes. This will demonstrate your interest in the person and organization and help you understand how you can contribute to the team’s success.
  5. Set goals: Once you understand your role and the organization’s goals, set personal goals. These goals must be aligned with the company’s objectives—set milestones for these goals so you can effectively measure and report on your progress.
  6. Learn the company’s processes and systems: Learn how the organization operates, including its systems, processes, and procedures. This will help you navigate the company’s structure and make informed decisions. Learn who the subject matter expert is for these systems and processes so you know whom to go to when future changes touch on those systems and processes.
  7. Identify challenges and opportunities: Identify the challenges or opportunities the organization faces. Once you align the challenges and opportunities with the strategic objectives, you can prioritize your work and identify areas where you can add value.
  8. Build a support network: Identify colleagues, mentors, and advisors who can help you navigate your new role; these are your allies. This support network will help you overcome challenges, achieve your goals, and help you inspire the necessary changes.
  9. Communicate your vision: Once you have a good understanding of the organization, its goals, and your role, communicate your learnings and vision to your team and your boss. This allows you to demonstrate the alignment of your team’s efforts with the company’s objectives while building a culture of collaboration and accountability.

Most organizations fail to onboard new executives properly. Therefore, it is essential that you onboard yourself effectively. These steps are critical for success in a new executive role, can help you make a solid first impression, and set the foundation for a successful tenure.


Rich Jones is the Founder/Principal of Leading2Leadership LLC. Before starting his strategic planning agency, he spent over 20 years in leadership roles in the financial services sector. Before becoming an executive in the financial services sector, Rich was an entrepreneur, building and selling two businesses and working for early-stage start-up companies in executive roles in marketing, business development, and seeking investment partners. With more than three decades of experience, he brings innovative thought to companies and executives. Rich published “Leading2Leadership, a Situational Primer to Leadership Excellence.” The book is available on and was designed to be used as a book study for leadership development programs; it breaks leadership skills into manageable situations for discussion and reflection. Rich works with credit unions, CUSOs, and vendors, designing digital, data, culture, marketing, and branding transformation strategies. In 2014, Chosen as a Credit Union Rock Star by CU Magazine, and in 2018, Rich received the Lifetime Achievement Award from CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council. A Marine and graduate of Colorado State University, Jones shares his expertise at

Leave a Comment