The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant. —Max DePree

Being a new leader, the child of a family business owner who decides to come into the business, must make show their mark early on. They can handle the family business, they are able to take the reigns and show their mark. But how can they do that?

In reading The First 90 Days by Michael Watkins, he offers some advice to new leaders:

“the overriding goal in a transition is to build momentum by creating virtuous cycles that build credibility and by avoiding getting caught in vicious cycles that damage credibility. Leadership is about leverage. The new leader is, after all, just one person. To be successful, she will have to mobilize the energy of many others in her organization. Her vision, her expertise, her drive can serve as a seed crystal in the new organization, one that will grow exponentially into new and more productive patterns of behavior. ” –Watkins, M. 2013. The first 90 days: critical success strategies for new leaders at all levels. Harvard Business School Publishing.

In summary he goes on to illustrate that employees need to be promoted with increased responsibility, that it is not always so efficient to hire outsiders (40-50% fail according to his stats, p.8). While this is promising for family business owners, who more qualified to bring on board than their child they’ve groomed since birth, there is a lot more to it than that.

Watkins outlines a road map for new leaders in 90 days, and one of his recommendations is to build alliances, with peers, direct reports, other departments. And though that is true, it is equally important for successors to take their time, create their own strategy to build up the company.