“40% of new executive transitions are declared failures after 18 months”
While our executive coaching engagements help leaders deal with a variety of challenges, our core focus is supporting leaders going through leadership transitions. Ram Charam, Steve Drotter and Jim Noel’s book, “The Leadership Pipeline” (2001) comprehensively describe the different skills and approaches that leaders need at various stages or levels of the organisation. Over a decade and half on, the model they created based on their experience in over 100 companies, is still relevant in many situations. Having use this approach within companies ourselves, we have seen firsthand the benefits to both leaders and organisations, of considering the differences in the way that time is applied at various levels of the organisation, and how the values drive the leaders decision-making must change from one stage to the next in order to sustain success.
“Leaders cannot think in the same way at different levels of the organisation and expect consistent success”
However the research shows that significant numbers of leaders struggle to successfully make the transition from one level to the next. In fact, of the thousands of managers that get promoted internally, or are appointed into roles, McKinsey reports that “40% of new executive transitions are declared failures after 18 months” (McKinsey, 2013). The hit to productivity, and the ineffective use of organisational resources, that these failures cause, is immense, even leading to a rippling out of poor performance, from the leader to their reports. Even where several weeks are allocated upfront for executives to orient themselves and come up to speed, success rates are not much higher. Few leaders, no matter how skilled or experienced at their current level, have the capacity to single-handedly shift their thinking, their approach, and their decision-making values to engage with their new context effectively.
“a structured transition process can significantly increase success”
Our experience in our own work, as well as in partnership with Accelerance (accelerance.co) , has shown that a structured transition process including the use of an executive coach over a period of 6 – 12 month, can significantly increase the probability of a leaders success in the long-term. Whilst such a process can be beneficial at all levels of an organisation, our coaching solutions address two specific types of transitions:
1. in medium to large organisations, the transition from functional leader to general management (Process to People), and
2. in start ups, the transition of the founder’s role as they move from managing a small team, and contributing significant technical expertise, to becoming the leader of more than a few dozen people (Maker to Leader)
In both instances our approach Focus is not only on building capacity in specific areas such as strategic thinking, but also on engaging with the leader’s core values and building self-awareness, allowing them to learn and adapt effectively for the long-term.
Our approach to coaching is based on the psychological background of our lead coach combined with his significant corporate and entrepreneurial experience.
Our colleague at Accelerance, Mike Maffucci has written a great article on the need for managed executive transitions: https://accelerance.co/solutions/executive-transitions/
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