Give Your New CEO An Even Chance By Reducing Wake Turbulence

As passengers we wouldn't dream of demanding our aircraft takes-off before wake turbulence subsides. As board members we are not so cautious
As passengers we wouldn’t dream of demanding our aircraft takes-off before wake turbulence subsides. As board members we are not so cautious

By Chris Gandy

This is the third in our series of posts each dedicated to one of the opportunities (we call them Janus Factors) that present themselves to cause-based organisations during the executive transition period between the announcement of a Chief Executive’s departure and the on-boarding of a replacement.

Last Monday I  caught an early morning flight from Sydney to Melbourne. We left the gate on time, taxied to our allocated run way and sat there for another 25 minutes waiting for our turn to take-off.

As we patiently waited,  a child in a window seat in the same row I was in asked his mother:

“Why do the planes wait so long to go after the one ahead of them has gone?  Can’t it be like cars at a traffic light and all go when the light turns green?”

His mother answered:

“Well, one of the reasons is that planes stir up the air when they take off and the next plane needs to wait for this to settle down before it is safe to go.”

Of course,  she was talking about the effects of wake turbulence and the need to take precautions to mitigate the risks it poses. In our case it was allowing the aircraft ahead 3-4 minutes head start before we trundled down the runway after them.

As I listened to this conversation, I thought that one of the major benefits of our Executive Transition Program is to reduce wake turbulence in an organisation. In fact we regard it as one of the most important but also must undervalued of the Janus Factors.

How many of you can relate to the scenario of excitedly taking on a new senior leadership role only to find by lunch on the first day that most of your grand plans to take your new organisation forward have to be put on hold indefinitely because of the festering sores you have discovered during your first walk around. Instead of hitting the ground running and forging towards a brighter future, your attentions are focused backwards. I liken it to arriving at your favourite fishing spot on a perfect day only to find your fishing lines are hopelessly tangled. As you feverishly attempt to undo the knots you are hoping that the fish hav’nt called it a day and moved on, another fisher doesn’t move in on your patch or the weather turns and you simply pack up and go home.

Wake turbulence is a real de-motivator and a number of newly appointed CEO’s simply don’t recover from it. Frustrated by the inability to move an organisation forward, they call it quits and head for a new challenge that can better suit their goals and ambitions.

Recognising this to be a real issue for new CEO’s, particularly in the not for profit sector, a specific intention of our Executive Transition Program is to find and remediate, if not remove completely, those issues that will cause turbulence and distraction for the incoming CEO. And, importantly, we are on hand to debrief the new appointee when they arrive of the major issues we have identified and the steps put in place fix them. A major purpose of the program being to allow the new person to get their mind around the future and where they are leading the organisation and not being rooted in the past.

About the author: Chris Gandy is a Director of Cause and Effective, an organisation focused on assisting  not for profits maximize their social impact. Contact Chris for an obligation free chat. Also you can now follow him  on Twitter.

Other Janus Factor Posts

Executive Transition – A Perfect Time For Reflection

Janus Factor # 1 – Taking Stock

The Janus Factors – the bountiful opportunities arising from executive transition

I Quit!

About B-Cause

B-Cause is published by Cause and Effective. We help good causes find and attract effective leaders.

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