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New Leaders Need Support

​Four of the more common reasons why

By: George Gilraine

GWG Consulting Services

January, 2017

During my organization and leadership effectiveness assessments I often witnessed new leaders struggling. While the reasons for their difficulties were varied, they are mostly avoidable with a few course corrections. This is what led me to create the leadership transition support program. Whether they be CEO’s, regional VPs, Directors or managers, new leaders and their organizations can benefit greatly from effective leadership transition support.

Successful new leaders speed up their time to impact by creating a clear strategy, effective management team performance and strengthening employee engagement. The Corporate Executive Board reported in 2016 that direct reports of successful new leaders are 15% more effective and 21% less prone to attrition than the average direct report. Yet, the failure rate among newly hired or promoted executives has stood at 40% over the past 15 years (1). 60% of new leaders are under prepared because of the information they use, the processes they follow, and the manner in which they engage — or fail to engage — those around them. Knowing how, when, and who is as important as what.

Although the first 100 days are indeed a critical adjustment period, the actual transition period is far longer than that. Leading organizations support new leaders well beyond the first 100 days and some even start support before the new role begins. However, less than one-third of the people assigned to support senior leadership transitions are actually able to effectively do so (2).

This is why new leaders need the support of an experienced consultant/coach with a proven support process and one who has also been through leadership transitions themselves. I have worked with many new leaders, who are grateful to be able to discuss their organizational and people challenges with a confidant who really knows what they are up against. Someone who gets inside the organization and compares their realities against the new leaders directions, through the lens of good leadership practice. Here are four of the more common situations I have encountered:

  1. Staff engagement can be off the radar and sliding terribly - OR - engagement can be OK, but with a lack of clear linkage between individual work and the new strategy, consequently work can be frustrating or counter-productive.

  2. Significant disconnects between what the new leader intends to do and how the organization perceives the changes. This can be due to lack of clear and consistent communication or some management team members not supporting the changes.

  3. New leadership teams, under pressure from above to increase performance and turn things around fast - can end up in micromanagement mode, causing staff disengagement, poor performance and leadership over load. A definite downward spiral.

  4. New leaders have a general sense of staff performance issues, but being ‘new in their role’ and so without being certain, they hold back on making key changes and the entire team suffers.

Effective support for new leaders and their management teams is critical to ensure success. It’s not enough to look just at developing a strategy and setting strong targets. Transitions require communication and lots of it. A favourite saying of mine ‘the sign of successful leaders is that they can tell stakeholders the same story repeatedly as passionately and motivating as the first time'. There are many aspects around the whole team and all the processes in place that need to work before even the best strategy has a chance to succeed.

GWG Consulting provides the best leadership transition support.

For more information visit www.ExecutiveCoach.Guru

(1) - McKinsey’s Leadership Transitions paper of 2014

(2) - Steven V. Manderscheid and Peter D. Freeman, “Managing Polarity, Paradox, and Dilemma During Leader Transition,” European Journal of Training and Development, August 2012.

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