New Leaders: Ditch the Org Chart

At least for the first 90 days

Suzan Bond
5 min readNov 25, 2022


A woman with long brown hair wearing a light colored dress smiles as she gestures with her hands at a woman across the table.
Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

The entrance to leadership is accompanied by the highest of highs. We have more responsibility and a title to go with it. Now we can have the impact we’ve always wanted. We can create the kind of org we long to be a part of. It’s all so wonderful, dream-like — the pinnacle of what we’ve been working towards.

We find a few bite-size problems to solve. This makes us feel good. We search for more. Soon, too soon, we’re out of easy problems to solve. The problems become more thorny, embedded in the company, in the culture. The enormity of the role sinks in. We feel like we don’t know what we’re doing. Our inner monologue begins to run, pestering us with questions.

“What if they made a mistake?

What if I’m not good enough?

Do I deserve this role?

How do I show my value?

Do I have any value?”

Feeling unsure, we look for something tangible to deliver. Anything. We probably can’t change company goals. We do have control over our team. We reach for the most tangible thing we can find: a new org chart. We reason that this will resolve some problems and show our value in a tangible way, a deliverable.

I get the impulse.

We’re used to being valued for getting results and delivering something of value. This is how we prove our worth to the company and others. We lean on tangible things others can see. In the leadership world, we often think a new org chart is a key deliverable for our first 90 days as leaders.

Reader, this is rarely true.

The first task of any new leader isn’t to build a shiny new org chart.

It’s a trap.

Org charts come with change and oodles of disruption. This takes energy. It also takes trust, which as a new leader we haven’t acquired enough of yet.

Our first deliverable doesn’t look like one at all. Our first milestone — deliverable if you will — is to understand what’s going on.

That’s right. Our first job as a leader is to understand the landscape: the people, the goals, the culture, the pain points, the way it says it operates…



Suzan Bond

Leadership coach for new technology leaders. Fast Company contributor. Former COO Travis CI. Twitter: @suzanbond