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Christy Clark tours the Capilano Suspension Bridge while campaigning for the B.C. Liberal leadership in North Vancouver on Feb. 18, 2011. (Rafal Gerszak/Rafal Gerszak for The Globe and)
Christy Clark tours the Capilano Suspension Bridge while campaigning for the B.C. Liberal leadership in North Vancouver on Feb. 18, 2011. (Rafal Gerszak/Rafal Gerszak for The Globe and)

Christy Clark's first 90 days as premier Add to ...

5. Negotiate success. By "Negotiating Success," Watkins means engaging with your new boss to shape the game so you have a good chance of achieving your goals. Too many new leaders just play the game, reacting to the situation that exists and failing as a result. Negotiate with your boss to establish realistic expectations, reach agreement on the situation, and secure sufficient resources to get things done. In this situation, the boss is the voters. It is critical that expectations are set appropriately, so that voters know what to expect as the new premier brings change to the government. Watkins has some good advice that can be applied to politics here. "Don't trash the past." "Take 100% accountability for making the relationship work." "Don't stay away." "Don't surprise your boss." "Don't try to change the boss."

6. Achieve alignment. The higher you climb in an organization, the more you assume the role of organizational architect, creating an environment in which others can perform well. No matter how charismatic you are, you can't hope to do much if key elements in your unit are out of alignment. Strategy, structure, and systems are the core of the role of Premier. Ms. Clark can't hope to do much more than conduct a solid diagnosis and perhaps get started on addressing alignment issues in the first few months. But working to ensure coordination between the core strategy, the cabinet team and the operating procedures of decision making will be critical to her success. If she is going to focus the government around services for families, it will be pretty important to have ministers who understand that agenda in key posts, and your best deputy ministers and political staff in the departments critical to that agenda.

7. Build your team. "If you create a high-performance team, you can exert tremendous leverage to create value. If not, you'll face severe difficulties because no leader can hope to achieve ambitious goals on his or her own. Poor personnel choices will usually come back to haunt you." Premier-elect Clark will need to do more than slot caucus members into cabinet roles. She will have to coax aging underperformers out the door, recruit new talent that can win by-elections, move those people into key roles without losing the trust of caucus. Her best card is the old adage that "we will hang together or hang separately." Only through unity can the B.C. Liberals hope to survive the next election.

8. Create coalitions. If your success depends on the support of people outside your direct line of command, it's important to create coalitions to get things done. Direct authority is never enough to win the day. Clark is going to have to use what Watkins calls "influence networks" to pull together her caucus and grassroots supporters. We all recognize this from our own offices, where reporting charts rarely capture the real relationships and centers of informal power in any organization. Clark will have to nurture supporters of her agenda, understand and convert early opponents and motivate those who are convincible.

9. Keep your balance. Watkins writes about the vicious cycle of riding off in all directions, failing to establish boundaries of what you will and won't do, over-committing to failing plans, becoming isolated and defensive, becoming biased and losing perspective, putting off critical decisions and potentially burning out. This is the classic mistake of new Premiers: using the flexibility of newness to fail to define yourself by what you won't do, instead raising expectations to unmanageable levels and then isolating when they cannot be met. To be successful, new leaders must wield tremendous personal discipline, far more than they needed to win the leadership. It is so easy to be busy as premier that the urgent can overtake the important. The hard part of the job is to delegate the excitement of urgent issues and focus on the mundane but important chores of planning.

10. Expedite everyone. You aren't the only one taking on new roles. So is your cabinet, senior staff and campaign team. Institutionalizing this advice won't just help the new premier, but help the entire team to adapt quickly to new roles. If premier-elect Clark follows this advice and has a little luck, she may be able to hand off the government to another Liberal. And having institutionalize this transition process may make his or her own first days on the job a little easier down the road.

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