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What Transition Executives Need

I recently met a female executive who was offered a major promotion to a senior executive leadership position. This promotion entailed jumping a level over her previous boss and garnering a massive increase in responsibilities. In addition, she would become the first female managing director of this multi-billion dollar international firm. She insisted on coaching as a prerequisite for accepting the position.

This is a very smart woman. She understood (rightly) that she didn’t yet have the management skills or the political savvy to succeed in this demanding new position. I am now coaching one of her direct reports. He was just promoted himself, and she insisted that he receive coaching as well. And he wants it, having seen how valuable coaching has been for his boss.

In addition to executive coaching, other resources to support executives in transition include mentoring or informal ’buddy networks,’ orientation programs, customized assimilation plans and programs, and pre-employment activities.

Executives in transition, take note! Your organizations may not be providing you with the support and individual resources you need to meet expectations and succeed in your new position. And organizational leaders, take note! Failure to provide these resources and supports can cost you a fortune in direct and indirect costs.

According to a recent Booz Allen Hamilton study, global CEO turnover is running at roughly 15%, the highest percentage in a decade. Other studies indicate that 40% of new leaders fail within their first 18 months in a new position. Aon Consulting reports that there is a 50% chance an executive will quit or be fired within the first three years of a new job assignment.

These findings are reflected in a new study commissioned by the Alexcel Group and the Institute for Executive Development. For a full copy of the report, go to

www.execinsight.com. In the spirit of full disclosure, please note that I am a member of the Alexcel Group and promoted the use of this study.

The study identifies a few key lessons for leaders: focus on early wins, while learning as much as you can about the corporate culture, what your team needs, whose opinion counts, and with whom you must create and maintain partnerships. And ultimately, while both business and people acumen are essential, failure tends to follow when the latter is ignored