How to minimize chaos during leadership change
Succession planning is very important in today’s context since the supply of the top global leadership talent is far lesser than the demand
Since a new chief took over as the head of a multinational tech giant, two high powered executives are going to leave the company. Closer home, an IT giant saw the same throes of management reshuffles when the top level management changed. As the company struggled to get its foothold back on the market, many top executives left the company, prompting its chief to say that only non-performers had left. While reshuffles are common once a new CEO takes over, how can a company ensure that a smooth transition between the previous management and the new management? What can it do to minimize the chaos during a transition period?
Change of guard is always traumatic to some as it leads to the invariable reshuffle, disappointments and unpleasant exits. Even the most famous very carefully planned Jack Welch succession at GE led to the exit of James McNerney and Robert Nardelli and of course some of their close confidants at the top levels despite the fact that these two leaders were very competent and also in the running for succession.
It should also be well understood that it is very natural for any new leader to make appropriate changes in the organization as per his/her vision and the new business strategies that he/she may have in mind. This becomes far more crucial if the organization is going through business downturn. Any change may or may not go well with the leaders and therefore some voluntary exits will always happen. Some involuntary exits may also take place for obvious reasons of right fit in the new context. Some senior leaders may quit since their aspirations are not met. These are some unfortunate realities that we have to keep in the mind while we plan any succession especially at the strategic senior levels.
As the top leaders exit due to the change of guard, the corporations have to give some excuse to the external world about the reasons of such high profile exits – Non-performance is just one of them.
Succession planning is becoming a very important topic in today’s context since the supply of the top global leadership talent is far lesser than the demand. In addition the lifespan of the tenure of CEOs is dwindling, leading to more shortage. As time passes by, succession planning is going to become far more important than it ever was. I believe it is a very significant change management exercise and has to be handled with sensitivity.
Top level reshuffles and succession will always lead to some exits. It is very important to ensure corporations build a strong talent pipeline, have golden handcuff plans (Retention plans) for key people and excellent internal and external communication strategies in place. It will be very critical to be closer to the key talents, engage with them and ensure attempts are made to get their full alignment.