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Book Review: You’re In Charge — Now What?

Thomas Neff and James Citrin’s “You’re In Charge — Now What?” offers an 8-point plan for starting a new leadership post.  Written with the CEO as the intended audience (though useful for lower leadership levels as well), the book offers a comprehensive checklist of strategies, as well as helpful real-life anecdotes from past CEO’s making the transition.

Of particular help are the stories, top ten list of mistakes to avoid, and the emphasis on building consensus (with the board, with the real power players you take care to identify).  There is a lot of repetition which helps reinforce the subject or bores you, depending on your point of view. 

One piece of conflicting advice that I struggled with was the time allocation advice.  According to Neff and Citrin, the new leader has less than 1200 hours, (calculated as 14 hours per day and a 6-day work week), so exercise and family time are likely to fall off the radar (they mention several times the value of leaving family behind for the first few months of a relocation situation.  Kudos to Neff and Citrin for providing both male AND female examples of this).  Yet, they also talk about how there are many first 100 days over the course of a career, implying that there are many instances where you need to drop health and family and focus all or nothing on the job.  While I agree wholeheartedly that there are crunch times throughout a career (and family crunch times as well), the implied start and stop made me wonder if there is a better way.  Given Neff and Citrin’s extensive experience watching careers via their work with executive search firm Spencer Stuart, I hope a more balanced long-term approach might be part of a follow-up book!

All in all it’s a great book for the reference shelf.


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