Moving on in an orderly succession
Succession management is a key challenge in every leader’s journey. The related activities are twofold; the leader moving
on must help prepare their successor to step up, while also preparing themselves – both practically and emotionally – to
step into a new role or life-career stage.
This dual focus on the future performance of self and others raises many questions in the mind of the individual moving on:
- What kind of legacy do I want to leave and how can I achieve this in the time I have left?
- How can I best prepare others to perform in my absence? How can I help future-proof the organisation beyond my
time with it?
- How can I find new and meaningful opportunities for myself beyond my current role?
- Where else can I apply the wisdom and deep knowledge that I have acquired?
- What new and different roles should I, and would I be willing to, consider?
A skilled executive coach can help your leaders answer these questions by directing them to valuable resources, working
with them to develop a clear roadmap for the future (including the timing and sequencing of their transition), and instilling
them with the confidence and energy they need to make the journey. More
How transition coaching helps leaders to move on in their careers
Today’s executive careers are, in effect, a series of transitions. Executives need to be equipped to move on and accelerate confidently, typically through three to five role changes. As a responsible leader, you can move up, or on, only when you are personally prepared and when you have contributed to ensuring that your successor is ready. Transition coaching assists you to do both.
Each transition is unique to the individual and the organisation. A transition is seldom linear and often involves difficult personal and professional trade-offs about what to keep and what to let go. I provide a highly customised, confidential and safe environment in which the individual moving on can explore and test out all available possibilities.
There are no short cuts or quick fixes when designing one’s future, and my coaching style reflects this philosophy. My approach is designed to ensure that an individual moves on smoothly and without regret into a new role or career – and does not fall into the trap of wasting precious time in following dead-ends or false leads.
- Identify ‘what they truly want’ and ‘why they want it’.
- Gather market intelligence and network to understand internal and external career opportunities
- Improve the way they foster valued relationships, and identify and secure mentors and sponsors who will help them traverse cultural and political roadblocks and open crucial doors.
- Generate a range of ideas for alternative career options to enable them to work differently – anywhere from reinventing themselves to reshaping their role.
- Deal with complex decisions, which are often values-based and involve trading off short- for longer-term gains. For example, do they want greater job satisfaction or to make a real difference or to earn more? Do they want to pursue their current line of work in the same or a different organisation? Or do they want to do something new and exciting that requires branching into the unknown and backing themself?
- Clarify and create a compelling narrative (and value proposition) by linking their past and current achievements with their future aspirations.
- Promote their personal brand so it is clear to specific audiences what they offer and what contribution they can make.
Situations that lend themselves to transition coaching
Treating ‘leadership development and succession [as] two sides of the same coin’ – a key point made by Jay Conger and Robert Fulmer in this classic Harvard Business Review article – contributes to an organisation’s leadership pipeline. I help organisations understand the critical passages a leader must navigate and the appropriate development opportunities along the way. Some of the situations that lend themselves to transition coaching include:
- Grooming an executive for a more complex and demanding senior role
- Accelerating the performance of a newly appointed executive
- Helping a seasoned executive prepare for a move into their next life-career stage More
- Assisting an executive to move on when their personality, style and/or capability are not aligned with the strategy and culture of the organisation More
- Supporting a redundant executive after downsizing, a merger or a change in direction for the organisation. More
You can read more about my thinking on transition coaching in these posts: