According to a recent McKinsey survey, 50% of all leadership transitions end in failure. Although this figure is high and perhaps sounds unlikely, from discussing on-boarding strategies with companies, OR the lack of them, I am not surprised!
I talk to so many HR Directors or Line Directors about interventions to ensure a leadership transition is set-up for success and the vast majority of them just assume it will be fine.
By leadership transition we are taking about either specialists taking a step up into a management or leadership role, an existing leader moving up the hierarchical ladder or a leader moving subsidiary or operating company.
The common mistake is to assume that your high performing employee will be fine because they already know the company and its culture. The reality is that they are taking on a new role that is likely to be outside their comfort zone, will require new skills and, therefore, there is a real danger of failure if you don't invest to fill the gaps or arm them with the support they will need to succeed with their new challenge. A bit of a simplified example but how many outstanding ex professional footballers move into management and fail? Just because you have an exceptional performer doesn't mean they are equipped to successfully transition up the hierarchical ladder.
The advice is clear, please don't make any assumptions, identify the gaps or the areas of risk and invest to remove them.
The most common and successful intervention is executive coaching and here is an article we wrote on the value it adds https://www.collingwoodsearch.co.uk/our-insights/board-insights/6-benefits-of-executive-coaching-for-a-newly-appointed-leader
Transitioning to a senior leadership role is sometimes considered to be more challenging than dealing with the trauma of divorce, bereavement or serious health issues. For the ill prepared, things can too easily go badly. And they do. Almost 50% of leadership transitions are considered a failure according to data released by McKinsey – they fail to deliver the anticipated organisational or financial returns. One could argue that at the senior leader or board level, it’s down to the individual to make their own transition a success. After all, they are very senior and have put themselves forward as highly capable. In most cases, HR offer onboarding programmes for those transitioning lower down the organisation but will tend not to become involved with more senior transitions.