Roadmaps for Success
Over the years, I have had the privilege of serving as a senior human resources executive in some of the world’s largest and most admired companies. During this time, I have observed that many companies and organizations spend significant resources and focus on building a robust leadership recruitment/selection process, but fail to invest adequately in a leadership integration process for new leaders. Leadership integration is simply a strategic and intentional process that assimilates a new leader by equipping them with a roadmap for success.
Sadly, most companies and organizations unintentionally take a sink-or-swim approach when onboarding executive leaders. Far too often, new leaders are dropped into their new role without a thoughtful plan or time to adequately acclimate to their new environment. I have seen this trend not only in large for-profit companies, but in nonprofit institutions and churches as well. This lack of attention to leadership integration holds true for both external hires and internal promotions.
Far too often, new leaders are dropped into their new role without a thoughtful plan...
To illustrate this point, a prior firm of mine hired a senior vice president of strategy to lead and drive the company’s multi-year transformation plan. This individual held multiple degrees from top universities and was a highly experienced executive with a proven track record of success. Everyone who interviewed this person agreed that he was highly qualified and that his past performance was predicative of his future performance. However, upon hire, this executive was immediately thrown into their role without time to acclimate to the company’s relationship-centric culture and highly matrixed operating model. He left the organization after eight months, damaging the firm and his reputation.
Sadly, this story is not uncommon and the lack of investment in a defined Leadership Integration process is a key contributing factor to high failure rates for leaders. For example, Harvard Business Review in a Nov. 13, 2017 article by Ron Carucci reported that 61% of executives are not prepared for their new leadership role, and that 50% to 60% of executives fail within the first 18 months on the job. Furthermore, Mary Meaney and Scott Keller cite in their book Leading Organizations: Ten Timeless Truths (Bloomsbury Business, 2017), that 75% of new executives feel unprepared for their new role. The failure of a new leader can have a devasting impact on an organization for many years to come.
While failure numbers are high for new leaders, organizations big and small can avoid being a negative statistic. The risk of a new leader failing can be significantly reduced by taking the time to intentionally integrate new leaders across the functional, cultural and organizational dimensions of your company.
It is wise not to make the plans overly complicated.
Creating integration plans when they don’t already exist can be a daunting task. Start small and focus on a few key roles initially. Additionally, it is wise not to make the plans overly complicated. While integration plans will differ from organization to organization, there are some critical elements that are core to building a successful integration plan. Strong Leadership Integration plans should address the following:
- Functional Dimension – What are the core skills and experiences a leader needs to succeed in the role and the company?
- Cultural Dimension – What are the Values, Purpose and Mission for the organization and how will the leader need to act/behave to succeed?
- Organizational Dimension – What are the core leadership competencies required for leaders in the organization?
While a strong on-boarding and integration process will not guarantee success for all new leaders, it will significantly reduce the overall failure rate and costly downstream effects of leadership failures.
David Alexander is a Managing Director at The Human Capital Group where he serves clients through retained search, new leader integration, executive coaching and leadership consulting. Prior to joining The Human Capital Group, he served as a senior HR executive for world-class firms including SAP, AT&T, Washington Mutual, Allied Signal, Gateway and Compaq. Most recently, David served as the Chief People Officer for Raising Cane’s, which under his tenure grew from 10,000 to 20,000 global employees. To learn how Leadership Integration accelerates success for new leaders, contact us or visit www.HumanCapitalGroup.com. David can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.