Transitioning to a new role can be a traumatic leadership experience. But it can be a catalyst for what we call at HFL a “leadership leap” – the opportunity, in only a few weeks, to dramatically develop leadership capability using structured transition coaching. How does it work?
Robert was moving up. Currently a team leader running a team of eight, he interviews for and is successful in landing an internal promotion. In a month he leaves his team of eight behind; and takes over, in a new territory, a team of five team leaders who collectively have a team of 50. It’s a big change. It’s going to happen fast. His mandate from his new boss – “make sure you hit the ground running, this team has been underperforming for a while.”
Risk is written large across this typical corporate situation. How will Robert’s team fare without him? How will the transition to the new leader occur? How will Robert “quickly” hit the ground running with his new team – all unknown quantities? And how will Robert’s leadership transform from team leader to leader of team leaders?
Almost everyone in the business has something serious at stake here – the organisation overall, Robert’s current and future leaders, all of Robert's current and future reports, and of course – perhaps most importantly – Robert himself.
How can this organisation support all of these interests towards a terrific outcome?
Transition is a great risk, yes; but it is also a great opportunity. Both teams, and all the leaders involved, have a chance to “re-start”. Many developing leaders have an opportunity to step up – make a leadership leap – in effectiveness, if the process is managed right.
Transition coaching starts with a simple offer – it is a plan to build a plan. It helps transitioning leaders by:
• Providing structure and direction at a critical time – building a complete plan, prioritising the right things to do, in the right order, in the right way;
• Providing leadership coaching support – the coach helping the development of the plan – and the leader in transition – by asking the right questions at the right time;
• Providing planning templates – how to leave, how to say hello, how to connect with staff, with internal networks, with customers, with suppliers – in a planned, effective way that leads to clarity, connection, communication and timely execution.
HFL’s customisable template runs for sixteen weeks, with eight sessions of coaching. Four occur during the “month before”, and then the other four at key check in points during the next three months. During the first four sessions the coach and leader build a transition plan, which crucially includes a communication plan that takes in all stakeholders. There is a big emphasis on understanding how this change will impact everyone affected by the leaders promotion in a different way.
As every L&D professional will know, this intervention can lead to very accelerated leadership development – both for the leader, and for those s/he is leading. Common mistakes and potholes can be avoided; communication messages can be sharpened and delivered with high impact; and performance and cultural expectations can be defined with real clarity. In short, a leadership leap can be engineered.