Executive Coaching and Leadership Succession Challenges
What are the challenges when experiencing leadership change and succession? How can executive coaching support you to work through and overcome leadership succession challenges?
Being offered a career promotion and experiencing a transfer of leadership delegation or succession, can often be a time of great celebration, excitement, and opportunity. However, it is not all plain sailing as you are also likely to be presented with the challenges of being seen as the ‘new’ successor to another established professional, executive or leader.
However, don’t give up! If you can master these challenges, change your response and perspective and work to overcome these hurdles, you could open the door to an abundance of possibilities and new opportunities.
Here are 10 challenges you might face when succeeding another leader
1. Becoming clear and confident about your new role and responsibilities.
A new role will always require you to embrace and develop new responsibilities and skills. Therefore, making the transition from your old role to your new role can prove to be a challenge as you navigate new waters. However, remind yourself that everyone had to start somewhere, so give yourself permission to become clear about what is expected within your new role, and review what are your strengths and growth points are. Allow yourself time to celebrate your success, to make mistakes, to learn from them and to show resilience when faced with challenges.
2. Developing trust with your colleagues, team, peers, and organisation
Trust takes time to develop. Remember, colleagues, teams, organisations are also going through a change which will likely impact their current state. You may be joining an established team and organisation who are used to their own establishing ways and so for some people, change can often be met either with open-mindedness and hope, or fear and defensiveness. Pushing or changing too much at the beginning or overcompensating just to people-please or to feel accepted can backfire. Reviewing, assessing, and taking action with your priorities and sub-priorities as well as actively listening to and taking genuine interest in the people around you will help you to make a smoother transition and help you to develop trust.
3. Responding to and managing changing team and relationship dynamics
Whether you’re joining a new team and company, an existing team or you already know the team you’ll be leading, it’s important to assess what your new role expects of you. Bearing this in mind, if you’ve been promoted you may need to manage and respond differently to your team and colleagues. This change can sometimes cause tension and conflict as both yourself and others adapt to new relationship dynamics and expectations.
It’s always a balance between maintaining the trust of your colleagues, whilst also needing to be assertive, decisive, and sometimes having to make or communicate difficult decisions.
4. Filling big shoes and managing expectations.
Perhaps the previous leader, executive or professional whom you’re succeeding was popular, or had an established and accepted style or approach. Or perhaps they left a legacy behind. Either way, there will be different emotions felt among various people and you may feel that you are expected to fill some ‘big shoes’ when succeeding someone else. This can then impact your own plans, vision, confidence, and progression.
However, succession does not mean changing who you are and your values just to fit in! It means acknowledging what has worked, celebrating this previous success, engaging in active listening and being confident enough to take this success forward. Whilst on the other hand you also need to be able to explore and communicate what has not been working so well, to refocus on the growth points needing attention and the action steps which need to be taken for effective change to be experienced.
It’s also vitally important that with any succession, you need to be confident in establishing your own leadership presence and identity, rather than being a copy of someone else.
5. Being compared, judged, or rejected by others
You may feel you align well with some people, whilst with others it may take time and patience, or you may find that you will always have difficult relationship dynamics with others. What is important is that whilst you may feel compared, judged, or rejected, you are also filtering whatever information is productive and useful and what is not useful.
If you are constantly taking on board everyone else’s opinions, judgments, projections, or issues then you will be forever firefighting, people-pleasing, worrying or wasting your energy, emotions, time and focus on these situations and people. Instead, refocus all of your energy and time into high-value situations and activities which are positive investments.
If on the other hand, you feel comments, opinions and people’s experiences are useful indicators pointing towards your own growth points then it’s time to actively listen and to take action.
The important thing is to maintain your core values, confidence and your own core identity so you can also weather any of storm which comes your way.
6. Comparing and doubting yourself against other peers.
If you are comparing yourself to peers, competitors or previous professionals, executives or leaders, then it’s time to develop your own confidence and establish your identity and leadership presence. It’s time to understand why you compare yourself to others? what are you bringing to this opportunity? How can you make a difference? Start focusing on your own journey and story, not someone else’s! You may also find that you’re focusing too much on yourself and other people, which indicates low confidence. Instead, the spotlight needs to redirected towards working effectively together and achieving the bigger goals, purpose and vision.
7. Managing competition and rivalry
With any leadership succession, you might need to also work alongside, manage and lead colleagues who were your competitors for the role. This will not always be easy as emotions, tension and conflict could run high. However, you might be able to turn these relationships around with time, patience and effective active listening and communication. However, it’s also true that no matter how harsh the situation is, you were chosen for the role and there were reasons for this. Therefore, always make sure that whilst you support active listening and communication and you may sometimes choose to follow this, you also need to be decisive, assertive, and confident in your own choices, rather than to be swayed by other people’s issues and insecurities.
8. Communicating the right balance between being decisive and assertive whilst also being an empathic active listener
It can always be challenging to find a balance between being assertive whilst also being empathic. Some situations may call for one or the other response, whilst other situations request a balance. Active listening and communicating your understanding of someone else’s viewpoint is always wise. Thereafter, following it with your viewpoint or decision and the reasons for this is also vitally important. Finding a happy balance according to your own communication dial and what is needed within each situation is vital.
9. Establishing your own identity and presence.
Developing and establishing your own professional or leadership identity is vitally important if you are to feel confident within yourself and you are to develop trust and confidence with others. Knowing who you are, what inspires you, what makes you tick, how to manage what triggers you, what your purpose and vision is, who your role models are and what drives you forwards as well as knowing your vulnerabilities and growth points and how you respond to challenges and success, all help you to establish your own identity and presence.
10. Proving your value and worth
It could take time to prove your worth and value or for you to feel accepted. Or you may find that it happens quite quickly. Whilst developing trust is important, it’s equally important to accept yourself and to set your own goal posts which serve the bigger vision. Sometimes you might not receive validation or acceptance and you to still be ‘ok’ with not always being able to please everyone.
11. Feeling like an imposter
Do you feel as though your success is just down to luck? Do you feel as though you stepped through the VIP room by mistake? Or do you doubt your own abilities?
Imposter syndrome can be a sign that you’re an empath, a truly skilled professional and a leader with great potential! However, it can also impact your clarity, confidence and success. Working through and overcoming your self-doubt with an executive coach can really help you to breakthrough fear and any leadership confidence issues so that you can embrace and fulfil your full potential!
10. Placing too many high expectations on yourself and others
You may be a high-achiever and place high expectations on not only yourself but also others and vice versa. Whilst setting yourself challenges can be important and positive, be mindful of when it can tip into unrealistic perfectionism.
Manage your expectations when starting a new promotion or role. Nothing happens overnight for yourself or others, so don’t start chasing illusive unrealistic goals. Instead be kind to yourself and focus on achieving your SMART goals. Focus your attention on producing effective impactful and long-lasting results even if they take a little more time than expected.
Executive Coaching and Leadership succession challenges
If you’re experiencing leadership succession challenges, then why not connect with me. Find out how executive coaching can support you through leadership succession challenges and help you to navigate your career transition and unlock your potential!
Schedule your complimentary 15 minutes coaching discovery call HERE and start your own success story today!