Leadership Transitions: Three Phases to Success - Lloyd Emerson Johnson

Point of View
3 min readMar 7, 2022
Image from Unsplash by Jehyun Sung

Senior leadership transitions are a critical time for any enterprise. With such significant change comes anxiety and disruption throughout the organization. Disruption and change can be both positive and transformative if the new leader follows a three stage framework for establishing and implementing the entire transition. Adherence to such a framework accelerates the transition in the modern business environment where time is critical. Moreover, a guiding three stage framework installs confidence throughout the organization during the entire transition span, even as it reduces lost opportunities for the new leader.

As a new leader you know you will ultimately find your way, you have done it before and you always succeed. You will figure out the role, the people and the systems. Moreover you will figure out how best to direct needed changes and make your stamp. However, none of this is something that should be stumbled into without great contemplation, planning and documentation.

A great leader follows the three stage transition to success.

Phase 1: The learning stage.

Phase 2: The strategic visioning stage.

Phase 3: The execution and cultural-shaping stage. Generally, this should be considered a 100 day plan, however, there is no hard rule to that.

The first phase, “the learning stage” is a time to gain an understanding of the organization, even as the organization becomes acquainted with you. This is a time of thoughtful observations and relationship building.

The second phase, “the strategize visioning stage” is a time to create the vision and a concise plan to achieve it.

These first two phases are the foundation of the entire transition. It is vitally important during these two phases, that all stakeholders understand the direction and vision, with clear and well defined timelines, blueprints and roles. Obscure leadership in a time of transition triggers apprehension and fear of uncertainty.

The third phase, “The execution and cultural-shaping stage” follows naturally when the first two phases unfold successfully. Execution and delivery of the vision goes hand in hand with shaping an overall culture that defines the behavior and thinking of the organization going forward. Once such a culture becomes organic, future initiatives become easier and natural.

Leadership transitions are a crucial and fragile time for business and enterprise. The entire future of the organization will be defined during this time of change and transformation. A true leader can avoid mistakes and negative disruptions with a three phase framework for the transition period. Indeed, such a framework can ensure the greater success of the leader, the organization and individual stakeholders alike, setting the course for continued success going forward.

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