Accelerate transition if you want change to stick

It’s not the changes that do you in, it’s the transitions. If you want change to stick, accelerate transition.

It’s our belief that transition is being neglected in organisations right now. There has been a lot of focus on change. We need an equal focus on what it takes to accelerate transition.

As we emerge from the pandemic, leaders, teams and organisations have incorporated many changes into their ways of working, strategies and operating models. But what about their focus on transition?

We hear stories that productivity has sustained through the pandemic, but at what human cost?

To sustain positive change, focus must be given to accelerate transition. 

We say this because change & transition are not the same thing:

  • Change is situational and external: a new role, a new boss, a reorganisation, a new way of working
  • Transition is the internal psychological process we go through to come to terms with the new situation

To maintain change momentum and sustain resilience, leaders need support to accelerate transition. A focus on transition enables leaders to advance through the change curve ahead of their teams. 

Our Transition Accelerator supports leaders to understand and more effectively work through the personal and human side of transition and change, so that it is less distressing, less disruptive, and more productive. 

The programme has three elements: Accelerate Transition, Clarify Purpose and Expand Insight:

  1. To accelerate transition we use a proven three-part process composed of an ending, a neutral zone and a new beginning. This process helps those in transition internalise and come to terms with the details of the new situation that the change brings about.
  2. Transition is difficult. Clarifying purpose and connecting to what is meaningful helps us to feel that the transition is generating movement towards a desired outcome.
  3. In leadership roles we rely on our people capabilities more than our technical capabilities. Expanding insight and self-awareness of our strengths, our blind spots and the  resilience strategies we need to sustain us at our best is time well spent.

If you would like to know more, please contact us on

*Title quote credit: William Bridges

Why empathy is now the most important leadership skill

COVID has shaken expectations of what it means to lead…it’s never been clearer it pays to care.*

The heart of caring is empathy.

As we emerge from the pandemic, empathy is the most important leadership skill. It’s the bedrock of positive work relationships.

The core of empathy is wanting to understand another person, taking the time to ask questions of others, genuinely showing an interest in their response, and using that information to inform your future interactions. It relies on core leadership behaviours such as listening, asking questions and encouraging dialogue.

Done well, it feels like the person you are talking to really ‘gets you’; like they’ve tuned in to you.

Done badly, you smell the lack of authenticity a mile off….

…And when real empathy is missing it’s a building block for negative relationships and a lack of trust.

Empathy relies on self-awareness and knowing the impact you have on others. At its best it is flexing your style to match what somebody else needs, not what you think they need!

This sense of feeling understood and heard is important to people in their workplace, particularly with someone they see as a leader. They want their leader to care about them.
Taking the time to understand what your people are thinking, what they are feeling, and their current experience, expresses a degree of caring which others feel. They start to care about you and you build a mutuality in the relationship that can be pivotal.

Is your leadership development equipping your leaders with the critical skills like empathy that they need to build positive working relationships?

If you would like to explore how we can help you accelerate positive leadership relationships, please contact us on




Why timing matters for executive team and board performance

Timing matters for executive team and board performance. It’s the most frustrating of things. Decisions are made, but the time it takes to agree them seems torturously long. Even when they are agreed on, the implementation seems to go at a snail’s pace and you’re worried that the organisation will miss the market opportunity the decision was meant to grasp. Sometimes, on reflection, the executive team or Board didn’t make the right decision because of a lack of challenge – or too much, which railroaded the process.

Sound familiar?

At our most recent roundtable event we talked about the significance of timing. While what I just described probably feels hauntingly familiar if you operate as a CEO, senior executive or as a non-exec, the likelihood is that, even though you can spot the symptoms, you haven’t yet figured out the cure.

And the really tricky thing is that the right cure – the one which fixes the issues once and for all, rather than making things only incrementally better – is likely to depend entirely on the timing.

When is just as important as what

When a senior executive team or board team is performing sub-optimally it’s easy to leap to solutions. But the most crucial move is to pause sufficiently so you can understand the timing context in order to match it to the right solution.

So what do we mean by when in this context? Examples include:

  • A change in leadership – whether that’s a new chief executive, chair, significant stakeholders or C-suite team membership
  • Changes in strategy or strategic priorities
  • A need to take performance to the next level
  • External factors such as legislative changes or disruption in your market
  • Any key point within the organisation’s cycle, so the mid-year point, when you need to review how you’re doing against enterprise targets, or the start or end of a year when you are planning
  • Before you make significant changes, for example establishing a new target operating model or strategy, and you’re considering the best team to lead the change
  • A new partnership, joint venture or alliance which brings pairs of teams together
  • A situation where there’s unhelpful conflict between those in pivotal relationships, for example, the chair and chief exec, or chief exec and CFO
  • When senior relationships are so fractured that intervention is needed to get things back on track

Surely we can crack this alone?

The evidence would suggest not, given that high-performing leadership teams were number eight in the top 20 Harvard Business Review article topics between 1976 and 2016. That’s 40 years of trying to successfully and sustainably solve this problem, without much apparent progress.

And evidence also shows us how critical the performance of top teams can be. 90% of investors consider the top team the key non-financial factor in their decision-making, and an organisation is 1.9 times more likely to have above-median performance if the top team is aligned and working towards a common vision.

So while top executives seem to agree on the business challenges we’re facing – company growth, new markets, cross-sector competition and the need for new alliances – it seems that the actions being taken to make those teams most able to tackle the challenges are merely more of the same things which haven’t fixed the issues so far. It’s like turning up the volume on a radio station you’re already playing and expecting a different genre of music to appear.

At our event and in previous blogs we’ve explained the big three problems we see when working with executive teams – time together is unproductive, conflict is too high or too low, which impacts on decision-making, and the skills, experience and behaviours which got people on the top team aren’t enough to sustain performance.

In our experience the trick to making those successful and sustainable changes is in not only addressing those three big problems, but in using the right solution for the team’s when – which is dependent on the stage both the business and the team are at. Interventions need to match both the business context and the team’s current challenges, which we reviewed in detail earlier in this article.

Doing the right things at the wrong time doesn’t deliver results. That’s why we put so much emphasis on the discovery phase of our work. It helps us not only understand the enterprise and its context, but map the when, which is what leads to higher-quality, more sustainable interventions.

As basketball legend Michael Jordon so eloquently put it, “Talent wins games. But team work and intelligence win championships.” Senior leaders need to decide whether they are happy playing in the lower leagues, or whether they have their eyes set on the Premiership trophy.

If your organisation has it’s eyes on the prize and you’re keen to ensure you do the right thing at the right time to take your executive team or Board up a level, get in touch for an informal chat about how we can support your team’s performance and growth.

How to Lead in the New Normal

The business environment will never be the same again. As the new decade unfolds, more and more business leaders and managers who have survived the recession and are rebuilding their organisations are coming to realise that their business models must be overhauled and that the old ways of improving performance and managing change will no longer work. Enter: leading in the new normal.

Leading in the New Normal Key points:

  • We need to steer away from the practice of employing people from the ‘shoulders down’. Today’s knowledge economy demands that we capitalise on individual’s from the neck up, releasing them from command and control management and liberating them to contribute more meaningfully.
  • Leaders must ‘future proof’ their organisations by building the strategic and cultural capabilities which enable them to win in their market place, adapt to change and produce the conditions where people can thrive.
  • Only by looking strategically at the people side of the business can organisations have any chance of delivering sustainable performance.
  • The importance of strategic clarity and having a compelling purpose that goes beyond making money to also making a difference.
  • The power of using pictures and creating the space for conversation in helping make change happen.

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