Leadership Transitions: How Not to Fail

Leadership Transitions

In the October 2009 edition of Chief Learning Officer, Michael D. Watkins’ article “The Eight Toughest Transitions for Leaders outlined the top transitions that most business leaders have to navigate during their career.  

The transitions are:

  • Promotion
  • Leading former peers
  • Diplomacy (authority versus influence)
  • New organization
  • International move
  • Organizational turnaround
  • Corporate strategy realignment
  • Business portfolio change

Watkins suggests that in order for a leader to transition successfully, a leader must not only be capable of adapting his personal style and competencies, but also be able to focus on the organization’s need to build a plan for organizational growth.

Identifying Needed Changes

Last Year

This past year has brought change to many leaders. Now that it is early February and the time of year that our New Year’s Resolutions can begin to fade or unravel, ask yourself some questions about last year:

  • What personal leadership changes did you make in 2011?
  • How would you rate your ability to adapt both personally and organizationally?

This Year

Looking forward into 2012, here are some questions to ponder to help you with your leadership success:

  1. Given your experience and leadership strengths, what do you need to do more of and less of?
  1. What new skills do you need to learn? What is your plan to obtain these new skills?
  1. What adjustments do you need to make in the areas of communications, delegation, decision-making, team-building, and also with your trusted network of advisors?

Identifying Needed Answers

The quality of the answers to these self-reflective questions is contingent on your level of self-awareness.  Since some of us are more self-aware of our strengths and weaknesses than others, I always recommend that in addition to answering these questions you use at least one other leadership assessment technique, such as the Hogan Leadership Survey or LeaderGrade tool.

Assessments can add insight into needed changes, but can also provide an unbiased view of your behavior.

Another option to increase your leadership success is observational feedback which can provide you with information on how individuals view your key leadership competencies as compared to your organization’s leadership competency model.

Planning to Implement Change 

Planning to implement change is often the time when an executive coach is asked for assistance. Co-developing a personal development plan with the leader and coaching them through the necessary behavioral changes are effective to creating sustainable change.

Using an internal coach is also an effective way to create a permanent change.

The advantage to using an internal coach is their organizational knowledge, while the disadvantage is the potential concern regarding confidentiality of the executive being coached.

Whether you choose an internal or external coach, coaching will provide you with a systematic and proven method to create long-term change.

Adapting to Change

You and your organization have had to adapt to the economic changes that have occurred over the last several years.  Adapting requires both personal as well as organizational changes.

Personal changes first need to be identified by you, others around you, and via an unbiased assessment tool.  Then a development plan is created, and a coach identified to work with you for sustainable change.

So, how are you doing in identifying, understanding, and adapting to change? As a leader, can you look back and see where you fell flat and failed in a transitional time? How could have you done it differently? Have you had success in this arena? What did you do right? I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas!


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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Beth Armknecht Miller, CMC is President of Executive Velocity Inc.
She is a change leadership advisor and executive development coach
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Blog | Web | 678-579-9191

Image Sources:  ventureneer.com

One response to “Leadership Transitions: How Not to Fail

  1. Pingback: Leadership updates for 02/05/2012·

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