Externally recruited leaders twice as likely to use a transition plan than internally promoted leaders.

MapDuring my research into what promotes and what inhibits a leader’s success during their transition period, one of the interesting findings is that externally recruited leaders are twice as likely to use a transition plan than internally recruited leaders.

Whether a 90 or 100 day plan, the use of a plan was commonly noted as a promoter of success by the leaders who had used one. It was also a top response when they were asked what they would do differently (if they hadn’t used one) and also when they were asked what advice they would give someone taking over their role tomorrow.

So why didn’t the internally promoted leaders use a plan as often? The common response was that they felt they were expected to be able to just pick up the mantle and continue on. That the fact they already understood the business and the culture meant that they and/or the organisation didn’t think they needed a structured transition plan.

The use of a well structured plan is a key aspect of a having a successful transition for both internally promoted and externally recruited leaders. Externally recruited leaders expect a tougher transition and the organisation grants them more grace as a result. However internally promoted leaders often have a blindspot around the challenges of taking on a more senior role within the same organisation; the changes in relationships, the differences in the culture at different levels within the same organisation and the pressure to quickly identify and make the changes needed to succeed under their new responsibilities / accountabilities.

HR and line management should help the new leaders design and stick to a transition plan, as in all cases in my research, it lead to a more effective transition. Do not ignore your internally promoted leaders or the need to run an ‘inboarding’ style program.

If you are not setting your internal leaders up to succeed then you are at best setting them up to struggle or at worst setting them up to fail.

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