Why Leadership Transitions Are Important

Why Leadership Transitions Are Important
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Leadership Transitions Matter
The pace of change affects shifts in leadership. High level executives are transitioning into new roles at an ever faster pace. As they move upward and into different roles, their ability to perform at the top of their game significantly impacts the course and success of the business. Leadership transitions are important because they have an outsized influence on the success or failure of the entire organization.

The Size of the Impact
McKinsey reports that when it’s done right, successful leadership transitions correlate to 90% of the new leader’s teams meeting performance goals over three years. When transitions to leadership are done wrong, the new leader’s teams have a 20% decrease in employee engagement and 15% lower performance. And the most distressing of all the statistics reported is that between a quarter and a half of leadership transitions are at least disappointing and at most deemed a failure.

What’s Going Wrong?
We know from our leadership simulation assessment data that most leaders are ill-prepared to take on their new role. We know from new manager training feedback that new people leaders face common challenges like complex organizational politics and minimal support as they take the reins of the new position. Organizations may try to boost the chances of success of their new leaders by providing mentors, onboarding programs, or executive coaching.

We know from people manager assessment data that these approaches are helpful to some, but they’re not enough.

A Better Leadership Transition Preparation Plan
We know from action learning leadership development participants that to take on any new challenge, it’s best to spend time investigating the current situation and determining future, realistic, and attainable-but-challenging goals. It’s a three-pronged approach that begins with a thorough assessment; moves to a strategic plan designed in coordination with the leader’s key stakeholders; and finally implements the plan through action steps that are adjusted as needed.

  1. Assess Yourself and The Current Situation
    First, you need to know where you are starting from as a leader. Get a proven leadership assessment of your leadership readiness, performance, potential, and skill gaps so that you and your boss can create a customized individual leadership development plan to set you and your team up for success.

    Then seek a thorough understanding of the business’ current performance, organizational culture, team members’ competence and attitudes, and what the company expects of you. This evaluation of the current state should provide a 360 degree view of what matters most and to whom.

    This initial assessment step usually takes about 100 days.  While you will probably feel pressure to make immediate changes, take your time and plan strategic changes carefully.  Only make immediate changes that everyone agrees will have a dramatic and long overdue impact to show that you are listening and can get important things done.

    Have you allocated the time required to assess the current situation?

  2. Engage Your Team to Design a Path Forward
    Our organizational alignment research found that strategic clarity accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performing teams. Once you get the lay of the land and everyone feels heard, it is time to co-create a compelling path forward.  The key is to actively involve your key stakeholders in the process to ensure that they understand, believe in, and are committed to the collective path forward.

    This is when your leadership communication skills will be essential. High performing teams agree upon clear team goals and accountabilities, roles, success metrics, interdependencies, team norms, and processes that make sense within their unique circumstances.  As long as you are clear, fair, and encourage knowledge sharing, keep in mind that you are in this role to develop and execute a team vision with a high performing and highly engaged team.

    Do you feel confident in your ability to co-create a team charter for success?

  3. Take Action
    This stage is where the rubber meets the road, and it requires persistence and careful tracking. Some moves won’t work as you hoped. Be ready to adjust the road forward as needed. Celebrate the successes and learn from the failures.

    You will know you are on the right track when your team’s goals are aligned with overall company goals, the way work gets done on your team helps to move the people AND business priorities forward, and your team works proactively for the benefit of all.

The Bottom Line
Leadership transitions are important and should not be undertaken without careful consideration and planning. Use every bit of support available but know that your success is ultimately on you. Assess, work with the team to strategize the path forward, and act according to your plan.

To learn more about being a successful team leader, download How Strategic Clarity Distinguishes High Performing Leaders – The Elite 6%

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