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Leadership Paradox III

The Paradox of Executives

When executives transition into a new job, they encounter a set of unique challenges that demand their attention and adaptability. If they are promoted in the same company, they may already be familiar with the company's culture but the division they inherit may have its own culture... that needs to be identified. Another major issue could be the topics are completely new: legal, HR, Public Relationships...

Firstly, navigating the organizational culture and building relationships with existing team members can be complex, especially when leadership styles and expectations differ. Additionally, understanding the company's existing processes, systems, and challenges requires quick and thorough assimilation. Balancing the need to make a positive impact while also taking the time to gather insights and assess the current situation requires a delicate approach. Moreover, managing the expectations of various stakeholders, including employees, board members, and shareholders, can add pressure to perform effectively from the outset.

Successfully overcoming these challenges requires strong communication skills, a willingness to learn, and the ability to make informed decisions amidst uncertainty.

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Who is this for?

Senior leader transitioning into an executive role

What challenges does this address?

  • A study from McKinsey reports that two years after executive transitions, anywhere between 27 and 46% of them are regarded as failures or disappointments. The same study also mentions 83% of global leaders think they are unprepared for their new role. (Analysis of data from Harvard Business School’s 2003 YPO President/CEO Seminars)

  • It takes on average 6.2 months for a leader to start bringing value to an organization .

  • Estimates of the direct & indirect cost to a company of a failed executive-level hire ranges as high as $2.7m (Brad Smart, Topgrading : estimation of the cost for a failed hire is 24 times the base compensation)

  • Successful transition leads to 90% higher likelihood for a team to meet their 3 year performance goals and 13% lower attrition risk in the team; unsuccessful transitions lead to 20% less engagement and 15% lower performance (CEB Blogs, "Corporate finance: The cost of poor leadership transitions," blog entry by Kruti Bharucha and Nitika Dial, October 29, 2013,

What is the solution?

 The transition should start at Day 1 (new job announcement date) and last 180 days: A number of missteps may happen in the first 3 months especially interacting with direct reports and in public appearances. The McKinsey study also shows that leaders need more than 90 days and are also given more than 90 days to have a significant impact (8 months to develop a strategic vision, 9 months to win support from employees, 14 months to build the right team… and up to 21 months to turn a business around).

Personal balance is essential in a transition: The power of an independent and external coach is to provide a safe space to address personal requirements for the transition to be successful (family, health, energy…). Coaching is optimized when evenly and frequently spread over the transition period. Tailored executive coaching has proven to double the likelihood of success (McKinsey study).

Focusing on the key challenges associated with transitions: assumptions, reliance on previous success and absence of learning lead to missteps in politics, culture and people. (What got you here won’t get you there).

An option to move into team coaching: culture eats strategy for breakfast! Although the transition starts with the new leader, the whole organization needs to transition as well. A new leader is also an opportunity for the broader organization to see a strategic shift happen with that new leader. Team Coaching is meant to support an organization moving over that edge through systemic and change management techniques. This may help a leader shift an entire organization around a strategic and cultural shift.

How does it work?

Step 1 - First 90 Days - DISCOVERING: Individual Coaching - 6 x 45 min and 10 min spot coaching/sounding board calls.

Objectives: accelerating the role integration by creating space for the leader to step back and grasp the stakes of the new role and success factors (business and personal)

o   Definition of coaching goals based on available assessments (Strength Finder, DISC, 360…) and individual discussion with the coach - goals focused on leadership behaviors and transition action planning.

o   Implementing a 90 Day Transition in Action Plan: defining what success looks like and what I need to get there, my leadership style, impactful communication with team, line manager and stakeholders.

Step 2 - At 90 Days - DEEPENING: Individual Workshop - 4h

Objectives: deepening the learning of the first 90 Days and creating balance at personal and professional level to define success for the 90-180 Days. 

o   Define individual ‘Transition Pyramid’ focusing on creating a Personal & Professional Balance. Focus on Purpose, Energy audit, start/stop doing, key shifts that need to happen.

o   Business Transition Plan: Walk through the Galbraith Model (possibly led by a Nestlé coach)

o   Define the Top 10 actions in the next 90 days

Step 3 - Beyond 90 Days - ACCELERATING:

Options to support further transition:

  1. Continue Individual Coaching (from 90 to 180 Days): recommended 6 x 45 min 

  2. Team Coaching: support leader in embarking broader team and organization through change (why change, embracing and implementing change). This would involve the leader and full or part of their team depending on the organizational and cultural shift required to meet the goals.

Your investment

Minimum 12'000 CHF (without VAT and excluding Travel & Expenses)

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The team behind this solution

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Emilie Cymberg



Frédéric Istas

Executive Mentor


Pilo Verdon


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