By Megan E. Hogan

New Leader Assimilation: Q&A With Crossland Managing Director, Kelly Pradhan


Leadership transitions can be a vulnerable and disruptive time for any organization. Making sure they are handled deliberately, with transparency, trust, and sensitivity, can be the difference between an organization's success or its failure.

Q: What is a recurring challenge you hear about from the executive teams you work with?
A: Leadership transitions—they can be incredibly disruptive and costly to executive teams, and no organization is immune. Some estimates show executive turnover impacting on the bottom line to the tune of 500 percent of total compensation costs. Yet, many leaders are left to their own devices to navigate their transition, which can often result in a hard landing.

Q: What does “landing well” look like for a new leader?

A: First, it’s about creating stability. When a new leader joins an organization, there are varying degrees of disruption given the change in organizational dynamics. Expediting and formalizing a leader’s onboarding process speeds up alignment and adds transparency to the process.

Second, it’s about energizing the team and accelerating learning. An interactive, facilitated process does both by providing a forum for validating information, correcting misconceptions, and providing a safe and supportive environment for any other topics that need discussing. In effect, the assimilation process becomes the first teambuilding experience with the new leader, and the first time that the team has the opportunity to hear his/her perspectives.

Q: What is a typical scenario you see in an organization when a new leader comes on board?

A: The sprint. Once the new leader is on board, the race is on to learn about him/her—to test expectations, values, hot buttons and any other useful information that helps people acclimate to the new leadership style. If facilitated well, this can be an energizing process. New leaders want to create a transparent platform for working together and leading their new team into action.

Q: What is the “new leader assimilation process” (NLAP)?

A: The New Leader Assimilation Process is a quick, non-threatening way to get answers to important questions and to openly address concerns the team may have. It gives the new leader a clear understanding of leadership expectations, and creates an environment where members of the team can explore concerns, preconceptions, and potential issues openly and productively. It establishes a communication process with a solid, long-lasting structure and should lead to the co-creation of “operating guidelines” and behaviors that will facilitate effective operational planning to implement the work ahead.

“"Having Crossland as a partner was incredibly helpful. During my executive onboarding with JA, Crossland's insights enabled me to understand the players, organizational culture, and history of past discussion so much faster. Long after completing their official scope of work with JA Africa, I am still receiving updates and resources from Crossland. Their commitment and personal touch is very unusual—in a good way. It’s a real strength!"”

Chinwe Effiong

Former President

Junior Achievement Africa

About the author

Megan E. Hogan uses her communications, editorial, and research skills to bring clarity, substance, and consistency to the diverse collateral of mission-driven organizations.

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