Successful Leadership Transitions

Successful Leadership Transitions

While the President of the United States gets 100 days to prove himself, business leaders get 90 days. Leadership transitions are a period of both opportunity and vulnerability. They are a period of opportunity to create business value and positive change. They are a period of vulnerability due to a lack detailed knowledge of existing challenges and what it will take to address them. The actions leaders take during the first three months of a new position often determine if they succeed or fail. Below are ten actions to create a successful leadership transition plan.

  • Attitude – Let go of the past and fully embrace your new position. Work where you are, not where you were. Doing what you know how to do, but avoiding what you need to do can be fatal.
  • Authority – Anticipate and expect early tests of your authority. Address them by being firm, but fair. Getting people to accept your new positon is essential to creating credibility, momentum and value.
  • Coalitions – Build coalitions both inside and outside the organization. Coalitions are people that cooperate together to protect or pursue specific objectives. When coalitions support your objective, you gain leverage.
  • Leaning – Control your need to immediately take action. Arriving with answers or making assumptions without learning can be costly. Determine what you need to learn and how to do it as quickly as possible.
  • Organization – Assume the role of organizational architect to create the right context for people to achieve. Context includes having the right strategy; structure and talent in place. Identify misalignment and remedy it.
  • People – Determine if the right people are in the right roles. Bad and mediocre people limit potential. Move good employees in the wrong positions to other roles in the company. Exit bad employees.
  • Situation – Match strategy to the business situation. Creating and implementing a realignment strategy in a startup situation or a sustaining success strategy in a turnaround situation will cause misalignment.
  • Speed – Help everyone in the organization, especially your direct reports and their direct reports, accelerate their own transitions. The faster people get up to speed, the faster they will help you reach your goals.
  • Success – Define success and how performance will be measured with your new boss. How often and what form of communication do they prefer? Always take 100% responsibility for making the relationship work.
  • Wins – Identify opportunities to secure early wins to build credibility and create value. Early wins build short-term momentum and advance long-term goals. Ensure the early wins matter to your new boss.

A new leader’s goal is to achieve breakeven as quickly as possible. Breakeven is when a new leader contributes as much value as they consume. From breakeven, a new leader becomes a net contributor of value. The more value a leader contributes to the organization, the better. The first 30 days of a leadership transition is for learning. The next 60 days is for providing an assessment and plan for building credibility, momentum and value. Transitions are only successful when the value created by an organization is greater than the value the leader must contribute to it.

All contents copyright © 2014, Josh Lowry. All rights reserved.


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