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Are you Conducting Leadership Transitions Effectively?

Those in leadership positions, especially professionals who call their home the C-Suite, play an important role in a company’s transition of power. When executives make a move, there are no higher stakes for a company.

Despite the amount on the line, not all leaders, or company structures for that matter, are set up correctly to conduct a successful leadership transition. Studies have shown that anywhere between 27%-46% of leadership transitions end in failure or disappointment. The consequences of failed leadership transitions have as significant an impact on an organization as hiring a bad leader does.

So, what should your company do to ensure your transitions of power take place seamlessly?

  1. Pass on Knowledge – When a new leader steps into their role, it’s crucial that whoever was in the position prior shares the knowledge they have. This doesn’t mean passing along extremely detailed files about each client or customer unless that’s something a leader has. It means more about categorizing your processes and best practices, giving details about what it takes to do the job you previously did, effectively and efficiently.

Record the status of key projects and anything that the new leader would inherit. Prepare the incumbent with obstacles they might face and steps for completing a key project.

  1. Set Clear and Realistic Expectations – A new leader should know coming in what’s expected of them regarding their performance and responsibilities. Clearly communicate this information and provide a visual record of it. With that in hand, a leader can develop a systematic approach as to how they go about achieving it.

The performance metrics should be tied to the overall company goals. Connecting the two creates a level of buy-in and shows the leader’s value on the organization’s big picture.

  1. Share Connections – The time associated with this practice varies depending on if the person coming in is an internal hire who’s been within the company for a while or a newer person to the organization. Either way, the former should make the incoming leader aware of the valued partners and resources that made them successful in their position. Share how best to work with them and what can be done to support them.

Reviewing talent is a critical component of this too. An incoming leader should have information about their new direct reports, including how best to interact and communicate with them. It’s the former’s job to prepare the incumbent with the information needed to help them lead the team left behind. A detailed summary of each team member saves the incoming leader time, allowing them to jump right in and start building relationships instead of trying to figure everyone out.

  1. Establish Credibility – Whenever someone transitions into a new role, it’s their job to share with those they worked closely with information about the person stepping in. Doing so helps to build the incumbent’s credibility. Share their expertise and experience and give your team and colleagues an inside look into things that can’t be found on a resume. This makes the new leader more relatable and more human.
  2. Build Credibility – This last best practice is something the incumbent should do once they’ve taken over the role. If the transition of power occurs smoothly, some credibility has been established by the outgoing leader. It’s now time to focus on a strategy to achieve the goals set in place for the new leader and further build credibility. Look at quick ways to improve customer experience, fix challenges within the team, or start increasing bottom-line returns. Doing so helps to prove themselves as the right leader for the job.

Have you been a part of a smooth, or not so smooth, leadership transition? How did it affect your organization? Join the conversation on LinkedIn and check out How to Safeguard Your Career.