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Top 9 Areas of Breakdown During Changes in Leadership

There’s a whole hooplah of issues that arise when changes occur in leadership. This can be situations such as big overhauls of who is on the lead team (someone quits, is fired, or retires; someone is promoted or onboarded) to combining leadership (merger or acquisition, bringing on a business partner, succession in generational ownership).

Changes in leadership can be difficult. And it is important to recognize that leadership transitions are never just easy, but creating a process and plan will make transitions more smooth.

Part of creating a plan and a process is asking the right questions. Here are the top 9 sets of questions (related to the areas for breakdown) that need to be addressed when changes occur in leadership.

  1. ORG STRUCTURE: Who is in charge? Is it the same person as before or someone new? Is there a new hierarchy or organizational structure? Was someone demoted in order for these changes to happen?
  2. DECISION MAKING: Who has the last say for large decisions? Who can make smaller daily decisions? Who is going to make the decision for who gets to make the final decisions from now on? Is it based on who is the majority stakeholder or something else?
  3. RESPONSIBILITY & ACCOUNTABILITY: Who is accountable for what? Who is responsible for who? Where do people go to ask questions (and which kind)? Who has leadership skills and who has management skills?
  4. JOB SECURITY: Has someone become redundant? Does that mean there will be blood spilled (competition) in deciding who will stay and who will go? Is everyone’s job still secure? Are you keeping the same departments and all the same people? Will there be any major changes in the work that is done?
  5. ALIGNMENT: Do you truly have aligned visions and goals? Does that include everyone feeling secure in their value and future (leaders and teams alike)? Is anyone at the organization no longer a good fit? Who will see their way up or see their way out?
  6. STRATEGY: Are you making decisions in the right order? Are you working on the right thing at the wrong time? What are the details for the long-term as well as the near-term? How will you know what is (and is not) working?
  7. FORWARD PROGRESS: Are you making decisions or agreements (there’s a difference)? Are there any top-down bottlenecks now? (Will the answers to those two questions lead to things coming to a standstill?) Is there a position left open due to a promotion, and will the new person filling that gap need training?
  8. COMMUNICATION: How will changes and transitions (decisions and information) be disseminated accurately and timely? Who will communicate and foster visions and goals, and the roles everyone plays in that? Who will receive information and who will deliver information?
  9. PEOPLE MANAGEMENT: How are you checking-in regarding employee fears or concerns during this time? What general questions do people have? Are there suggestions employees have based on their past/daily experiences? How are things at home and does that play a role in how the employee shows up at work (aka. are things feeling unstable in more than one area of their life)?

There is a primary Elephant that would deliver onion bagels to your boardroom if you did not ask these questions, and his name is “Assumptions.” And we all know what happens when we assume (it make an ass out of you and me… ass-u-me).

Many of my clients happen to be in the complex service delivery space such as health or wellness organizations, or companies going through mergers and acquisitions. But these questions can apply to many industries and larger organizations.

One of the best solutions to avoid these problems is to ask these questions early and throughout the process. That will allow you to get in true alignment on strategic goals and future visions. That will allow you to make sure that leaders feel confident and capable in their new positions. That will allow you to support your people, and grow the organization faster and easier.

QUESTION: Many organizations will be making leadership changes and transitions at the start of the new year. Have you done your Strategic Planning and asked these questions to ensure you grow faster and easier next year?


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