The travails of transition

The travails of transition

Behind every leadership hiring move and every talent management move is a significant
transition for the leader involved. What is less understood are the travails that these leaders
experience in going through these transitions. No wonder, not all of them succeed.

Transitions are tough

Transition are tough for many reasons. When a leader is hired from outside or promoted from
within for a large role, the view about that leader’s potential to succeed is at best a hypothesis.
Making that a reality is seldom simple and seldom the job of the leader alone.

What makes a transition (from one organization to another; one level to another; one function to
another; one business to another; from a function to a Business leadership role; one culture to
another) difficult? The sources of transition pressure are many:

  • Integrating with a new team
  • Aligning with new manager
  • Aligning with new stakeholders
  • Managing cultural differences
  • Prioritization in the face of multiple expectations
  • Developing new skills
  • Style shift

There are many things that can add to the difficulty:

  • Stepping into the shoes of an illustrious predecessor
  • Superseding peers who are now team members
  • Stepping into a jinxed role
  • Stepping into a new role and unchartered waters
  • Stepping in to turn around a business or change strategy or drive hyper growth

Missed deveopmental milestones

As if these are not enough, the Leader may enter the new role with what I call missed
developmental milestones – competencies that one should have mastered a while ago but did
not and the new enlarged role is likely to magnify these competence gaps. (one’s communication with persuasion was average but in the last role, tenure gave them credibility but this new job demands loads of it with no equity yet)

Preexisting conditions

Add to this the last twist of trouble. One may have carried on in one”s work life with a bunch of
preexisting behavioural challenges like

  • Emotional regulation
  • Inability to receive and work on feedback
  • Inability to build and nurture relationships
  • Interpersonal insensitivities
  • Unhelpful ways of thinking about self, others, the system
  • Poor learning ability

Given one’s track record, maybe one got away with these. But now this role is huge and the
context is new and unforgiving.

Why Transition coaching

While organizations spend a lot of time and money hiring or assessing before making a career
decision, they do very little to set the leader up for success. This is despite the fact that so much is at stake for the business and the leader.

This is where transition coaching can offer a huge advantage in setting the leader up for success.

So, if you are planning to hire a leader from outside or promoting from within and the stakes are
high, consider finding a transition coach. This is the best way to assure success.