Wrapped in an orange robe, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi meditated for 17 hours in a cave at the Himalayan shrine of Kedarnath. After a hard-fought election, an American president might thwack some balls down a fairway, or go shoot turkey with the boys. The next day, Modi claimed a historic, landslide victory, defying expectations of even his own party to win a second term in office. Similarly Australia Prime Minister and Indonesia President were re-elected.
In stark contrast, the UK is set for a new PM by end of July.
It has been estimated that 40% of leaders fail within the first 18 months on the job – regardless of whether they were hired from outside the company or promoted from within.
In my mind, the number-one job is the success of the new leader. The number-two job is the smooth exit of the outgoing leader. Therefore, it is critical to ensure the new leader receives the help she needs to have the best chance to succeed.
A leader in a new job is usually burden with stress that comes from trying to act in a way that shows she belongs in the top job, to meet the expectations of self and others, and to achieve impressive results quickly. Most importantly, it is critical to tailor the pace of the transition to the unique conditions the new leader faces.
As the new leader settles in, she should form an image of what she most wants to see, hear and feel of an optimal future a state of the organization/team. This visioning should be descriptive to the point of being vivid and attractive enough to motivate the leader, and eventually her followers, to do what must be done to make it happen.
Another foundation for the transition’s success is coalition building. The new leader must have behind and around her a team who are committed to and share her vision of what the organization should become.
It’s never smooth or easy to transfer power from one leader to a successor. There are no definitive how-to-manuals, no easy answers and no single best approach.