Maestro-level leaders are responsible for handing off the baton as neatly as possible. That responsibility matches the successor(s) responsibility to grasp that baton fully (the successor's first priority) and quickly (the successor's second priority). They must do this while matching speed for the handoff and then accelerating into their turn.
Two dangers accompany the handoff.
First - the outgoing leader assumes that their knowledge of what it takes to run the organization easily transfers to the successor. The example of "Ken" in Don Ciampa's 2021 essay on CEO succession paints the picture of the grave problem this can become.
Second -- the successor(s) assume they already know everything, or worse, believe they can run the organization better than their predecessor. Consider this editorial on the Jack Welch and Jeffrey Immelt succession at G.E. as an example.
Out of these two dangers, a third problem often occurs: the outdoing or incoming leader thinking the other person is responsible for any failure while taking credit for any success.
My yearning to be a resource to Maestro-level leaders comes from my journey through what I hope was a planful and well-executed transition from the company my wife Lorie and I founded so many years ago--in essence--a platform from which I've assisted other succession plans and executive transitions. Along the way, I've come across many quality experts and resources, but always for pieces and aspects of the process. I rarely come across something comprehensive and interdisciplinary, and never at scale.
I am about to take the last steps of transition beyond my time leading the enterprise as I sell my equity in the company. It allows me to voice once more what it takes to run our business successfully. Across the next seven weeks, I will use this blog as that voice. I hope for a two-fold benefit:
- Design Group International will have this repository to draw upon should it choose to do so. That it exists is my responsibility. That it is determined to be valid and gets any actual use is the responsibility of others.
- Other Maestro-level leaders (you?) will do your work to more deliberately and cleanly hand off your baton to your successors as they reach out to take a complete and clean hold. We don't want the house falling down!
P.S. This blog continues with a slight reset in February 2023. Kristin Evenson and I will still be writing about Maestro-level leadership while adding the wisdom of our other cohort leaders. I look forward to much more to come!
Tags:process consulting, leadership succession, Mark L. Vincent, Design Group International, leadership theory, Executive Development, leadership theories, Maestro-level Leaders, The Third Turn, The Third Turn Podcast, Kristin Evenson, Third Turn Blog, Succession, Linda Milwanowski-Westdorp
December 1, 2022