Depending on how it’s defined, leadership transition can have a variety of meanings. For some, transitioning to a new leadership position means a change of leadership, for others, this could mean appointing a new leader after the current one retires or passes away. Another meaning of leadership transition is management transition, which occurs when an employee moves from one team within their firm or business to another.
Elsner and Farrands (2006) define leadership transition as the process of taking charge in a new role (p.4). While Ardichvili and Manderscheid (2008) define ” leadership transition ” as the process in which an individual move into a different leadership position and defines the “transition period” as the first nine months. Leadership transition is the process of maintaining strategic, operational, and cultural continuity as one leader passes the mantle of authority to a successor, according to Ciampa and Dotlich (2015).
But the most working definition as per Dr. Ty Wiggins’ research “the factors that promote and inhibit leadership transition successes are as follows:
“A leadership transition is any significant change in a leader’s role caused by promotion, secondment, changing organizations, merger, acquisition, restructure or returning from maternity/paternity/career leave.”
The transfer of leadership is a fundamental change for the organization, the new team, key stakeholders and especially the new leader. Newly appointed leaders need to understand the organization, build relationships with key stakeholders, evaluate and lead new teams, understand their strengths and guide them in the context of this new role. They have to speed up.
Transition Can Be Stressful
While the transition time can be exciting and exhilarating for a new leader and for followers – members of the organization – who are witnessing changes in their environment, it can also be challenging. Leaders have tried from the beginning to solidify their reputation in their new role.
In other words, all eyes are on the newcomer, with some fans hoping for success and others, in many cases, focusing on flaws that could indicate failure. The new leader is under a lot of pressure to win a quick victory.
New leaders have a natural urge to contribute something unique to the organization, and they frequently feel the need to distinguish themselves from past leaders. As a result, the new leader frequently appears to be critical of the organization’s established processes and policies.
In order to demonstrate his or her ability to contribute, the new leader may offer a suggestion for every problem that crops up. While new leaders should definitely listen, it’s all too easy for them to immediately try to change the direction of the organization which can cause a backlash if done wrongly.
According to research, executive transfers ranging from 27 to 46 percent are viewed as failures or disappointments two years after they occur. The biggest problem, according to leaders, is organizational politics: 68 percent of transitions fail due to political, cultural, or personnel challenges, and 67 percent of leaders wish they had acted faster to change the culture.
Leadership transition can occur at any time, whether for planned or unplanned reasons. Therefore, it’s critical to understand the different type of leadership transition and create an advance plan to mitigate potential risk.
👉 Reasons/Types of Leadership Transition:
✅ Long-servicing Executives Planned Retirement:
In this case, executives of the organization can both recognize a long-time leader’s contribution and make room for thoughtful discussion about the organization’s future leadership needs, which may differ from the outgoing leader’s leadership attributes.
✅ Development and Promotion of Leaders
Executives of organization actively provide room for new leadership to take root and be supported, resulting in the development of new leaders.
✅ Requirement for a change or a turnaround
These leadership transition can be a chance for organization to move into their strategic vision and employ one that can lead the business through a strategic turnaround to put the organization on the long-term direction it desires.
✅ First Hired Leader for New Business Segments
First hired leader can provide a chance for growing organizations to consider the infrastructure needed to expand and sustain the effectiveness of a mission and establish the organization’s structure and its presence in the sector.
✅ Unplanned Transition
Spontaneous and unexpected departures may be both an opportunity and a challenge for board members to improve their administration and control capabilities while preserving the organization’s sustainability.
Leadership transition are an unavoidable part of corporate existence. Organizations looking for new leadership have two main options: developing an inside candidate, which is quite unusual; or pursuing an external candidate from within or beyond the industry.
The requirements of new leaders and followers frequently clash during organizational transformations. The leader wants to have an instant influence on the company, while the followers prefer gradual transformation.
Successful transition necessitate an awareness of what both parties desire and the rapid development of communication and trust between them.
Effective leadership training may help transitional leaders define and acquire required experiences and abilities, as well as increase information collecting skills, successfully self-assess, value and apply mentorship, formulate strategy, and communicate.
In our next article, we’ll talk about what are the steps that we can take to make leadership transition a success in any organization.
About The Author: See Wei Ngiam
Ngiam’s versatile background in HR management and extensive experience working with MNCs such as Kimberly-Clark and Amway have allowed Ngiam to design Growtribe in a practical way to enable people leader & manager to accelerate people growth through a simple and yet impactful approach.