How to Successfully Transition to a New Leadership Role 

If you’re making the transition to a new leadership role, whether it’s in the same organization or somewhere new, it’s a challenging and important moment in your professional life. Your actions in the first few weeks of a new role can determine the success or failure of your tenure.

It’s an unfortunate truth that nearly half of leadership transitions fail. Studies show that anywhere between 27 and 46 percent of executive transitions are regarded as failures after two years.

What can you do to ensure that your transition is successful out of the gate and that you stay on the right side of that statistic? Here are some key points:

Don’t move too quickly. Leaders who have been successful in a previous leadership role sometimes make the mistake of wanting to change the culture and immediately fix everything that it isn’t working. You may think you need to move quickly to make things happen, but that’s far from what will make you successful. Instead, you must be deliberate and thoughtful about any changes you implement. Fast moves and new initiatives are likely to have a negative impact, which reflects badly on you. To be successful in transition, learn to move slowly.

Make sure you’re prepared. A recent study finds that as many as 83 percent of global leaders in a new role say they are unprepared. Leaders often think that what got them there is going to keep them there. But a leader in a new position has to prepare for transition by with the knowledge that they don’t know everything. They have to lead with an inquisitive mind to figure out what skills, learning or development they need, then go out and cultivate them. To be successful in transition, learn to assess.

Become an effective collaborator. As you’re developing new initiatives, consider it an opportunity to model a collaborative approach. Don’t hand down edicts but help your team take on sponsorship of the initiative. Lead them in strategizing, optimizing and working on integration with all the aspects of the business. Allow them to be the architects of the plan to make sure everyone can buy into the idea. Together you will go much farther than any leader can go alone. To be successful in transition, learn to share ownership.

Build a comprehensive view. Before you take any broad action, make sure you have a good sense of the five basic dimensions of leadership—the strategy and operation of the business or function, the corporate culture, the team, the leader themselves, and other stakeholders that need to be managed—and how they work together in the current context. For transformational change to be successful you need a leader who can fluently switch between the big picture and a more detailed view. To be successful in transition, know when to act.

Transitions are a great opportunity to build a foundation for long-term success—both your own and the organization’s—but they need to be carried out slowly and deliberately.

Lead from within: The most successful transitional leaders must first go inward before they can be effective leading outwardly.


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After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR,, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

  1. Sarah Polito

    11. Apr, 2019

    Lolly – All new leaders should read this post and use the information as a guide during their leadership transition. “The most successful transitional leaders must first go inward before they can be effective leading outwardly.” That is so true! So often people want to make their mark quickly, but as you point out, those that are thoughtful, collaborative, and prepared have longterm success. Thank you for sharing your wisdom!

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  2. Kinsley Sarn

    10. Jun, 2019

    Good article & an excellent way to articulate. Keep it up.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Shandy Amaze

    07. Oct, 2019

    Great article! Will definitely share this to my team.

    Reply to this comment

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