Leadership transitions are critical for the future of organizations. The stakes are high, yet leaders receive little support when adapting to their new roles. Leadership coaching can help prepare leaders and companies for these inevitable events, endowing all involved parties with the right tools to handle the challenge.

Leadership transitions are more and more frequent and statistically less successful than one would think.

  • According to a study, in 2015, the CEO turnover rate in the world’s top 2,500 companies was 16.6 percent.
  • Of the leadership transitions, only around 54 percent succeed. The rest go down as disappointments and failures.
  • Executive coaching can help ease the pains of transition and improve the success rate.

Leadership transitions are as inevitable as the changing of the seasons. 

The Stakes are High

A positive leadership transition can ensure the success of an organization for years to come.

  • Teams forged in the cauldron of a successful leadership transition are significantly better at retaining talent.
  • Such teams are more engaged, more willing to go the extra mile, and, as a result, more productive and profitable.

On the other hand, a problem-fraught leadership transition has a profound negative impact on the performance of the organization.

  • Teams working for struggling leaders are less productive.
  • Reports find it more difficult to become engaged and assume psychological ownership over goals and visions. As a result, talent retention suffers.

However, despite these high stakes, leaders transitioning from one role to another within the same organization or from one organization to another get little to no support.

The Role of Leadership Coaching in Transitions

Leadership coaching endows leaders and organizations with skills and capabilities suited for addressing the challenges of leadership succession and transition.

  • Executive coaching enables leaders to adapt and hit the ground running in a new role.
  • Leadership coaching is personal and behavior-oriented. It is also individually-focused, thus being highly effective in assisting the coachee through challenges like transitions.
  • Business coaching helps leaders realize the importance of leadership succession within their organizations. It assists executives in implementing systems and processes for identifying high potential employees and turning them into future leaders. Thus, it preemptively alleviates the stress and impact of future leadership transitions.
  • Coaching also helps leaders shape and mold the culture of their company while championing change and transformation.

How Great Leaders Deal with Transition

As I have pointed out in my books and blog posts, dealing with leadership transition requires a set of flexible skills and leadership competencies. Intelligent leaders take stock of the situation first and commit to taking action after they draw their conclusions.

Successful leadership transitions require decisive action across five leadership dimensions.

  • The business. In this context, taking stock translates to understanding the capabilities and current performance of the organization and the views of the predecessor. Leaders take action by ensuring that their team is aligned with the organizational purpose and mobilizing it to act toward future goals.
  • Organizational culture. Leaders take stock by understanding the current culture of their team and its limitations. Taking action translates to actively influencing the culture toward performance improvement.
  • The team. Within this leadership dimension, taking stock means understanding whether the team has the right skills, attitude, and underlying structure to handle the challenges it has to meet. Leaders take action by ironing out deficiencies, clearly defining what the team needs to do and what it has to stop doing, and implementing a team structure conducive to high performance.

The team is an essential factor in a leadership transition. 

  • The leader. By taking stock in this leadership dimension, leaders reflect on whether they do everything they can to get up to speed within the new role while defining boundaries. They take action by making sure that they invest their time wisely by dealing with challenges only they can handle.
  • The other stakeholders, such as superiors, reports, etc. Taking action in this dimension means setting productive working relationships with other stakeholders and establishing levers through which leaders can influence the views of these parties. To accomplish such objectives, leaders have to know and understand their mandates, as well as the expectations of the stakeholders.

Intelligent leaders and organizations do not leave leadership transitions to chance. Leadership development programs can help the individuals and the organizations involved in transitions better adapt to the situation, turning a possible disaster into a fresh opportunity for success.

Check out my books to learn more about leadership development and the impact it could have on your organization.


Back to blog