Leadership Transition - The Art of Transition

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The Art of Transition. By Camille Bishop - www.camillebishop.com.

Notes from a talk given at the Berlin European Leaders Forum 2009 (Berlin ELF 2-6 February 2009).

Camille's book about how different generations respond to challenges in different ways was as aptly named for the ELF as it was timely!

We're in this boat together, BISHOP Camille, ISBN 9781934068373

Using the metaphor of four members of the IT department stuck on a boat together during a team-building exercise, Camille Bishop explores the differences between the four major generations currently working in the marketplace: the Silent Generation (1925-1942), the Boomers (1943-1960), GenX (1961-1981) and the Millennials (1982-2002). The story, itself, works out fairly well, and the lessons the four learn are quickly put to use back at the office when the company CEO steps down, creating a workplace rapids situation. In and around the fictional setting, Bishop shows how to put the lessons to work, showing how each generation responds to stress, motivation, and team work. Sometimes the lessons interrupt the plot of the story, but they are relevant and on target. Additionally, there are many quotes from members of all four generations, giving their insights to how they react to each other in different situations. Readers of hard-core business books may not find the use of fiction to their liking, but it works, and would be useful to any of the four generations wanting to understand the other three.

Sacramento Book review

We're in This Boat Together

Transition is a process, not just a change. Leadership is all about transition. What words come to mind when we hear the word, 'transition'? New, change, chaos, confusion, challenge, change of season, hardships, danger, fear, goodbye, opportunity, unknown, questions, improvement, it's about time, relief... Transition will bring up a mixture of feelings, positive and negative. Life is a series of transitions:

  • Birth (literally, through the birth canal).
  • Going to school.
  • Adolescence.
  • Career choice.
  • Marriage.
  • Having children.
  • Health issues.
  • Grandparenting.
  • Retirement.
  • Death.

Transition involves change, passage, transformation, conversion, metamorphosis, handover, changeover, segue, shift, switch, progression... Bobby Clinton (website): Transition is "the preparation and releasing process by which existing leaders help emerging leaders to assume responsibility with its tasks, roles and functions".

Leadership is All About Transition

What is the fallout from our transition? William Bridges: "A three-phase psychological process which people must walk through to cope with change: 1. Ending 2. Neutral zone 3. New beginnings. This can result in insecurity, loss of identity (especially for men) and falling off the radar screen. Leadership succession demands advance planning with a solid leadership transition proposal, including the systematic and strategic passing along of skills and knowledge to others. It is important not to just 'walk out the door'. God is God of the past and future; the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. His people are to be multi-generational". Howard Malmstadt: "Leadership has to be of a type that is fairly rare: people who know what they're talking about, and yet with spiritual depth. Our transition experience affects succession, longevity and future viability. Think of some biblical examples of leadership transition, successful and unsuccessful:

Leadership succession demands advance planning with a solid leadership transition proposal..."

Camille Bishop

  • Moses to Joshua to the Judges.
  • Saul to David to Solomon to Rehoboam.
  • Barnabas to Paul to Timothy.
  • Jesus to Peter.
  • Elijah to Elisha.

We see here various issues of good and bad transitions, depending on level of instruction, modelling, mentorship, discernment about type of leadership needed, how gradual the transition is made, how controlling or collaborative... Looking more closely at Moses and Joshua:

  • The first mention of Joshua.
  • Sent to fight the Amalekites Exodus 17:14.
  • Went up to the mountain of God as Moses' assistant; Exodus 24:13.
  • When Moses left, Joshua stayed behind Exodus 33:7-11.
  • Moses challenged Joshua Numbers 11:29.
  • Joshua returned from spying, with faith Numbers 13.
  • Moses developed a relationship with Joshua.
  • God instructed him to transition the leadership to Joshua Numbers 27:18-23.
  • Joshua was commissioned before the entire public.

God instructed Moses to encourage and strengthen Joshua (Deut. 1:38; 3:28; 31). Joshua assumed leadership with God's encouragement and commissioning: Joshua 1:1-9. Then verse 10, Joshua takes command. the people followed him (vss 16-18). God exalts Joshua in the sight of the people. Transition is complete.

Transition elements
  1. Ask, what kind of leadership do we need?
  2. Clarify expectations.
  3. Outline clear responsibilities.
  4. Be sensitive to timing: is the new leader ready? are the 'led' ready?
  5. Ensure adequate mentoring.
  6. Manage tensions that arise around transition.

Tensions Arising in Transition

The Founder: What is the former leader now supposed to do? A strong culture is left behind by the founder. Who can take his/her place? Often a team is needed. Founders can be tempted to stay involved too long, or step back in and take over when things don't go well. Generational differences: The four generations addressed in the book, We're in this boat together, are global, not just American: the Silent Generation (1925-1942), the Boomers (1943-1960), GenX (1961-1981) and the Millennials (1982-2002). Each has its own approach to: • • • • • authority and respect managing task and relationship time commitments (2 years is long term!!) communication styles leadership styles.

  • Transactional.
  • Transformational.
  • Directive Cultural differences: We will tend to lead out of our own culture, unless we have received revelation and heart transformation.

Power points: The following factors need to be realised as giving extra "power points":

  • White.
  • Male.
  • Educated.
  • Financially resourced.
  • English speaking.
  • Tall.
  • Extrovert...

Factors for success:

  • Seek God for direction.
  • Clarify the vision for the leadership position, responsibilities, time frame, expectations...
  • Establish a leadership succession plan.
  • Involve others in the process -- communicate, take time to work through the process with appropriate closure.
  • Honour those stepping down.
  • Commission new leadership.
  • Factor in generational and cultural differences.

We will tend to lead out of our own culture unless we have received revelation and heart transformation.

Leadership styles:

  • Authoritarian.
  • Hierarchical.
  • Patri-/matriarchical.
  • Collaborative.
  • Charismatic.
  • Consensus building.
Specific challenges in leadership transition
  1. Process too quick or too slow.
  2. Lack of process with all affected.
  3. No dialogue or communication.
  4. 'Sink' or 'swim' mentality.
  5. Lack of implicational thinking.
  6. Lack of appropriate closure.
  7. truth is sacrificed on the altar of loyality.
  8. Responsibility is given without real authority.
  9. The "led" don't own the new leadership.
  10. Old leader still interferes.
  11. The old leadership has to be "asked" to step down.
  12. Compromise due to the need for leadership.

Clarifying the vision:

  • Has the original vision been changed? oploc/ ministry.
  • What strategy is there for the future?
  • What is the current state of the oploc?
  • What kind of leadership is necessary for future growth and development?

Planning leadership succession:

  • Leadership succession strategy.
  • Former leader's plans.
  • Oploc/ ministry plan for passing on skills and knowledge.

Time frame?

"It is important not to just 'walk out the door'. God is God of the past and future; the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob..."

Camille Bishop