August's 90-Day Agile Toolkit for Your New Leadership Role

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August's 90-Day Agile Toolkit for Your New Leadership Role

A 90-Day Agile Toolkit for Your New Leadership Role | August Public
A 90-Day Agile Toolkit for Your New Leadership Role | August Public

If you’ve partnered with August in the past, it’s likely that you worked closely with us over the span of months or years to seed and scale transformation in your organization.

But not only were you changing your company through that partnership; you were building your own responsive skill set as well.

You’ve learned the fundamental skills of empowered decision-making, meeting with purpose, building trust, and cultivating psychological safety. You’ve seen the impact of these practices firsthand, and achieved major successes internally and externally.

But what happens when you move on to a new role with a new organization?

How can you bring these skills with you into an organization that hasn’t partnered with August and isn’t yet fluent in these methods?

Well, first off, it’s very likely that you’ve been hired precisely because of your success as a responsive leader! Your new role is an invitation to bring these responsive ways of working to your new team. And the first 90 days in your new role is the optimal time to lay that foundation.

Here is our recommended toolkit of responsive practices you can deploy in your first 90 days in your new role, to help you lay the groundwork for a successful culture of agility, trust, and transformation.

1. Introduce empowered decision making practices.

Most teams and organizations make decisions on a default setting mired in decision paralysis, blockage, and swirl. But because of your past partnership with August, you know firsthand the merits of making the decision-making process more explicit and intentional.

Introduce this idea to your new teams with the help of the Decision Making Checklist.

This simple procedure names and clarifies each step of the decision-making process, and is easy to implement without prerequisite training.

Decision Making Checklist | August Public

For a more detailed refresher on these individual steps, check out our Get Better at Decision Making series on YouTube!

Each 5-minute video covers an essential decision-making practice that can be applied immediately to real-time, everyday decisions.

And for a deeper dive into the specific decision-making methods you can choose from, read our whitepaper: Decision Making Can Be a Lever for Organizational Change.

2. Run great meetings.

Meeting fatigue is so rampant that it’s almost guaranteed that your new coworkers are feeling the strain. They might even be stuck in a perpetual game of “calendar Tetris,” in which they’re continually shuffling their schedules around to accommodate the newest urgent priority. 

Your new leadership role provides a great moment to start changing the situation for the better. Start by introducing the purposeful meeting norms we practiced together during your partnership with August. Start by defining the 5 primary meeting types with your teams and using these to clarify the purpose of each meeting that lands on the calendar.

Meet with Purpose | August Public

From there, you can set a weekly meeting cadence whereby you prioritize actions at the beginning of the week, collaborate on specific goals in the middle of the week, and demo and retro your progress at the end of the week.

Meeting Cadence | August Public

A regular meeting cadence can help free up time and brainspace for everyone while increasing individual productivity and ensuring a shared work rhythm. What a refreshing and empowering way to kick off your new role!

For a more detailed refresher on how to run great meetings, download our Meet with Purpose Practice Stack.

3. Start building REAL trust.

When it comes to trust, you’re starting with a blank slate. Everything you do in your first 90 days will either help you start slowly building active trust, or send you quickly sliding into trust debt.

We often say that trust is built in teaspoons and lost in buckets – meaning you can’t win the trust of your entire organization with one grand gesture. But you can build it through teaspoon-sized practices and mindsets that will collectively build trust over time. 

Be strategic and intentional about how you go about building active trust with the help of our REAL Trust Cornerstones: Reliability, Empathy, Authenticity, and Logic.

(All credit to Frances Frei and Anne Morriss for their Trust Triangle, which inspired our development of these four cornerstones!)

4 Cornerstones of REAL Trust | August Public

You can also use the REAL Trust Cornerstones to informally assess the existing culture of trust in your new organization. If you’re entering a low-trust environment, perhaps reeling from a recent rupture like a layoff, you can use the Cornerstones to calibrate your response.

Each cornerstone comes with specific practices you can implement in your leadership and cultivate within your teams.

For a quick guide on some modular trust-building tactics you can mix and match, check out our Building REAL Trust Practice Stack. 

Building REAL Trust Practice Stack | August Public

4. Create equitable access to psychological safety.

Thanks to the pioneering research of Amy Edmondson, we now understand that psychological safety (the belief that one won’t be harshly judged or penalized for speaking up with challenging or risky ideas) is critical for building high-performing teams. 

But different people have different levels of access to that “felt permission for candor,” as Edmondson describes it, depending on their lived experiences of marginalization or privilege. 

As a new leader in your organization, you have an opportunity to set the tone for equitable psychological safety from the start. One of the best ways to do this is to start openly talking about your own failures with humor and grace. 

This might run counter to your own internal urge to “prove yourself” in these early days – but being candid about your failures is one of the most effective ways to set up a culture of “intelligent failure” from the get go.

3 Types of Failure | Amy Edmondson | August Public

We also recommend that you openly seek diverse perspectives of team members who may experience lower psychological safety due to marginalization or bias. You can do this via formal practices like Rounds, to make sure every voice is heard and considered. 

Rounds | August Public

For more on how to build equitable access to psychological safety, check out our whitepaper: Looking at Psychological Safety Through an Equity Lens.

Summary: Get ready to launch a new chapter with your new org!

In your first 90 days, you may feel pressure to prove yourself to the organization. But it can be more empowering and productive, both for you and the company that hired you, if you use these 90 days to embed these responsive ways of working into the foundation of your teams and work. 

We hope you find success in using these practices to launch a new chapter of agility and trust for your organization – and an empowered, satisfying, joyful new chapter in your own career. Congratulations on your new role!

And please let us know how it’s going. Email us at team@aug.co, or message us on LinkedIn. We’re rooting for you!

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Mike Arauz
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