Leadership in a Time of Transition: What Not to Do

So you're being replaced or you're about to step into a new role of leadership, now what?  Let's break these scenarios down and outline what not to do.

First of all, it's crucial to understand that any transition of leadership brings about a strain on the organization.  Even if the person on their way out was disliked, there is still a predictable amount of stress that comes with a new chief.  Will he sustain our progress?  Will she make quick changes?  These questions and many more bring some stress to even the most stallwart employee.


Consider what Bill George writes in Business Week:  “I believe all the economic misery, financial disasters, and millions of lost jobs will produce a new generation of leaders who are battle-tested in crisis and ready to get the global economy pointed in a healthier long-term direction.” Business Week.

As long as the leader can be incarnational- that is to say, respecting of the organization- he will do just fine.  Here are some things not to do:

  1. Don't presume that everyone will embrace you. You're probably going to face the Law of Thirds: one third will love you, another will provide resistance and a final third will be open ground to be won over.

  2. Don't pretend that you know everything about the organization. It's super important to learn the culture and the vibe of the community you will be serving.  Get to know the history, the symbols and the places that make your organization so cool.

  3. Don't think that the first year will be full of roses. To the degree that you can anticipate challenges and crises, you'll be better equipped to handle them.

  4. Don't under-communicate during the transition. Write notes, blog, make your calls and do anything you can to strategically communicate before and then after the transition.


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*Photo by BrennanMore