Many leaders will change their roles and/or companies in the years to come — and statistics indicate that over half of those leaders will fail in their new assignments. But leadership transition failures can be avoided if success is engineered from the outset. Below are 10 top strategies to ensure a leader’s success in his or her new role.
1. Develop (fit-for-purpose) 120-day transition plan.
Failure to plan is to plan for failure. In the first several months, your time is stretched. Take the time to think through what you need to learn, whom you must get to know and what needs to be done with high/medium/low priority. Document your plan and follow it.
2. Accelerate your understanding of the business and organization .
As part of your transition plan, decide what you need to learn and from whom and schedule meetings with them ahead of others. Put an emphasis on reading, listening and learning, and absorb as much as possible.
3. Connect meaningfully with key stakeholders.
Meet with key people during your earliest days. Ask their observations on key issues. Be a superb listener. Take notes. Answer their questions. Give them the chance to know you better. Through your words and actions, show you care.
4. Ensure clarity of direction; create momentum for business performance.
People want to hear your expectations for the business and where you want to take it. Make certain everyone knows what success looks like and what results and behaviors are most important to succeed. Keep people’s heads in the game by helping them focus on the business first.
5. Follow through on your commitments.
Leaders want to be seen as making decisions and taking action. Resist making commitments early on. If a leader fails to follow through, the seeds of skepticism and distrust are planted. For commitments you do make, write them down and enlist support in tracking and fulfilling them.
6. Actively listen and communicate often.
Leadership effectiveness is rooted in communicating well and often. Don’t leave this to chance — always be clear through well-thought-out communications, both formal and informal.
7. Model the teamwork you seek from others.
Take advantage of your newness to role-model collaboration, trust, openness and support for one another. Enhance the working relationships among existing team members and departments.
8. Ensure you have a winning team
You’ll need to change the people — or replace the people. Transitions provide an opportunity to assess and grow existing talent, to realign the talent you have or to bring in new people. Prioritize cultivating a winning leadership team — they are a reflection of you.
9. Manage your work-life balance
During leadership transitions, your work and personal life will be out-of-whack. Plan for this. Communicate openly about this “transition season” with your family and closest friends, and when you are with them, make that time count — focus only on them.
10. Ensure you have a trusted and caring source of feedback and support
There is no substitute for having a trusted professional with whom you can talk offline, seek counsel, test ideas and get feedback at all times, on any issue. Many leaders rely on an executive coach, trusted adviser or mentor to assist as they navigate new waters in their new role. This is not a time for heroism and going it alone.
Managing through leadership transitions from one job to another, or one company to another, requires careful leadership behaviors and behavioral management. This benefits you, your employees and shareholders. Use the top 10 strategies to ensure your success.
Leslie W. Braksick, Ph.D., is the co-founder of CLG Inc. (www.clg.com) and author of “Preparing CEOs for Success: What I Wish I Knew” (2010) and “Unlock Behavior, Unleash Profits” (2000, 2006). Braksick coaches and consults with top executives and their boards on issues of leadership effectiveness, succession and strategy execution. She can be reached at email@example.com.