Leadership Transitions

Leadership Transitions


Do you have a leader who is

  • A high potential transitioning to a new role?
  • Shifting from being an individual contributor to leading a team?
  • Stepping up to a managerial role within their department and facing peer issues?
  • Moving up from a director to a senior director role with multiple departments reporting to them?
  • Taking charge of an innovative division that is unlike the other traditional business units?
  • Taking over a high-profile project with a newly assembled team of many high performers?
  • Taking on an interim role to drive a first-time project?
  • Handling higher expectations as the result of reorganization?
  • Responsible for implementing the integration of a recent acquisition?

If you have a leader who is facing one of these challenges, we can help.

Moving to a new level in the organization

  • An individual contributor has been a solid team player for years, without being responsible for any direct reports. In transitioning to leading a team, this leader needs help in handling the increased scope, making demands on others, and also coaching and developing their reports.
  • A strong team player who thrives on responsibility and accountability will need to be mindful of working relationships as they take the department through new performance standards. This new manager will need assistance in moving from being a coworker to becoming a leader as well as building effective communication and delegation skills.
  • A director has been effective in managing a single department. As they transition to leading several departments, they need help with strategic thinking, handling complexity and pressure, expanding influence, and improving their negotiation and collaboration abilities in order to gain alignment and buy in both upwards and laterally.

Driving a new initiative or challenge

  • Taking over an innovative division requires incredible passion and skill to build structure and the team. Traditional business unit leaders may not fully embrace the new direction and are often not very supportive. This courageous director will need some help in deciding how to cope with the volume of demands and rapid change, as well as tips on how to deal with the vociferous skeptics when setbacks happen; otherwise, they will second-guess themselves and their efforts.
  • A director with a strong track record of coaching and developing a small team will be faced with learning how to successfully lead a number of demanding high performers.They will require help in shifting to accelerated problem solving, collaboration, and creativity in a focused, committed, and passionate team. They will need to become adept at sharing power, applying power, or giving away power and determining how each of these approaches affects outcomes and working relationships.
  • A team leader who is no stranger to responsibility has taken on a first-time project—a high-stakes situation for the business that involves some key opportunities for future success. The leader will need help in expanding their conflict resolution and negotiation skills, encouraging self-sufficiency in others, and improving their ability to manage upwards.

Directing a merger/acquisition Integration or reorganization

  • Reorganization has all directors facing higher expectations as they implement the new plans. Executive management has significantly shifted, and a couple of executives have been hired from the outside. Each director will need to examine the basis of their effectiveness, what they are adapting to, and how they are going to take themselves, their peers, and reports through the change process.
  • A midsize firm is using acquisition as part of their business growth strategy. Integrating smaller companies into their operations gives them greater access to markets, expertise, and efficiencies. The director and core management team will need help in handling alternative perspectives and communication approaches as they work toward establishing new behavioral norms. They will also need to ensure that newly acquired employees adjust to higher standards and more formal processes. They will need individual and collective ways to increase their ability to navigate relational issues, handle hot issues skillfully, and keep everyone focused on a common purpose, all while creating an inclusive environment and a profitable expanded company.

Six reasons why leadership transitions can be so challenging:

Listen to Judi’s perspectives on 3 frequent transitions (3:58min).

  • Moving to a new level
  • Driving a new initiative
  • Directing an integration or reorganization

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  1. In leaner organizations, people are being promoted earlier in their careers, which means that a new leader may be asked to think two to three levels above what they have been doing. It also means that their director may delegate a task, such as a project plan, and expect an outcome that the individual is not equipped to handle. It requires a stretch on everyone’s part. For the new leader, it means striving to learn, while the director may need to invest more time in coaching than planned.
  2. The first two months in a working relationship sets the stage for the way things will be done. It is important that the new leader’s mindset and how they go about communicating and delegating lay the right groundwork during the initial few months. They need to be mentally, emotionally, and intellectually prepared to handle a wide spectrum of relationship issues during the transition period. Not preparing properly guarantees that precious time and energy will be needed for damage control for many months ahead.
  3. Higher levels of complexity and ambiguity are involved, requiring those in the know to interpret what is taking place and understand the ramifications for other areas of the business. For example, the new initiative may operate at a loss, which affects everyone’s annual bonus. Such a situation often involves senior-level people running interference for those who are busy implementing.
  4. There will be more relationships to manage upward, downward, and outward. Discussions for competing resources will be tougher, and the intensity of conflict and negotiation can be outside some people’s comfort zone. Senior people may take it in stride, but they need to be more involved and accessible until the new leader has reached an acceptable level of proficiency.
  5. The core team responsible for implementing integration needs a different set of strategic and interpersonal skills to be successful.
  6. The odds are stacked against them. Studies show that 70 percent of mergers fail because focus is usually directed on processes and efficiencies; yet, it is the people dynamics—power struggles, conflict, and disruptions—that present the real challenges, as they occur regularly during the first few months. It is critical to prevent issues from festering; otherwise, damage control later will take precious time and resources. These conflicts can be a distraction to the business and may result in retention issues.



If you identified with one of these scenarios, Judi can help you.


Want to know how I work?

Click here to see the methods I use. I customize every engagement, so this list is a menu that you and I will discuss. Together, we will determine what best fits the individual’s needs as well as those of their role in your organization. Call me today at 416.761.1533 to discuss your situation.

I have helped hundreds of leaders deal with transitions. Here’s what some of my clients have said about their coaching experiences.

From a new Department Manager

“The first two weeks in my new role went extremely well, thanks to transition coaching. I’d been selected for the manager’s position over a few of my peers. Preparing mentally for their reactions and learning ways to handle each colleague proved to be very valuable.

In the past, staff in our facility took sides whenever an internal promotion took place, and there were worries about the tension that would be created. Your recommendation to focus on the peer relationships up front really paid off. By the second week, staff openly commented on the absence of tension. What a big difference!

Knowing what relationships to pay attention to and what behavior patterns to look for and how to handle them meant I could do and say the right thing at the right time. Since those first few days, everyone has been very supportive and offering assistance to help me learn quickly. I definitely believe in the power of paying attention to key relationships in the early stages of a promotion. It’s a lesson I will never forget, and I plan on having many more promotions in my future.”

From a director who transitioned multiple roles during a downturn

“The career advances I have made, in spite of a downturn in our business, I attribute to our coaching sessions causing me to see things differently and helping me to influence outcomes. I now have direct contact with the president who values my contribution to corporate strategic plans.”

From a Director driving an innovative division

“Coaching helped me transform a seriously out-of-synch situation to an aligned one. Our entire team is driving innovation, and they are passionate. But we had been constantly butting heads with the traditional business units and their analytic-driven leaders. Things had been moving so fast I didn’t realize how big the gap was between us and them or what all was contributing to it. 

Coaching helped me see situations and people’s positions differently. Naming the gaps and underlying reasons for them focused me on learning what I needed to do to stay innovative and in my effectiveness zone. By positioning and presenting information to the traditional business units in ways that made sense to them, it helped us close many of the gaps.  I didn’t feel in control back then.  Now I am like an island and have my freedom again to run this new business outside the traditional norms.”

From a Regional Director responsible for a post-merger integration

“Judi’s expertise in post-merger integration equipped our managers with the leadership skills needed to effectively transition incongruent groups of employees into an aligned team.

Her customized Learning Labs focused on specific individuals and cliques and their impact on the broader team. Judi’s coaching distilled behaviors and motivators which provided managers with key insights and the ability to see team dynamics through new eyes. They acquired the framework to interpret and handle situations as they unfolded. They are much more competent at getting their thinking aligned so that their interactions resolve issues faster. These new skills enabled them to lead more effectively and accelerate the team’s transition to an integrated culture.

Judi’s guidance also helped us establish communication processes and appropriate messaging. With her help we developed effective feedback procedures to handle the tough issues related to higher teamwork expectations.

This was my first experience with bringing in outside help for a post-merger integration. The results have sold me on the value of equipping managers with skill sets they don’t learn in general management training.”

Want to know how I work?

Click here to see the methods I use. I customize every engagement, so this list is a menu that you and I will discuss. Together, we will determine what best fits the individual’s needs as well as those of their role in your organization. Call me today at 416.761.1533 to discuss your situation.

Photos: ©Depositphotos