Four Characteristics of a Successful Leader in a Cultural Transition


Strong values and a thorough understanding of culture from voices of leadership can prevent M&A Failure.

Let’s be honest: mergers and acquisitions are not for the faint of heart. The melding of two separate corporate identities into one is a challenge, even for those most experienced in the field. So what does this mean for leaders going through this transition?

To put it simply: they have their work cut out!  Especially when it comes to managing the cultural transition of a merger or acquisition, strong values and emotional intelligence, are key characteristics of leaders navigating this space. Within the new work environment, employees will look to leadership for understanding how the new culture fits into their work lives.

Ernst and Young said it best, “As the person at the center of the [merger], the leader must navigate complex situations successfully, build cross‑functional relationships and bridge cultural gaps.”

When searching for that leader who can help successfully navigate this change, or when molding the current leader into one who is up for the challenger, there are four key characteristics to keep in mind:

1.   Rapid Problem Solving Skills

Leaders undergoing a merger or acquisition must keep in mind that issues will certainly arise amid the transition. Because of this, rapid problem-solving skills are a must. While moments of chaos and discomfort are sure to ensue, leaders who can quickly and effectively lead the team to resolution will increase employee confidence and prevent turnover.

2.   Effective Communication

One of the most common causes of business failure after a merger or an acquisition?

The clash of two corporate cultures.

The way to prevent that clash?

Effective communication.

This includes being clear on expectations, monitoring tone, and showing how leadership is making changes in order to adapt to the new culture, as well.

3.   Trust in the Management

Enlist the help and knowledge of leaders and managers from both cultures, and develop strategies that focus on practical and transparent decision making. There is a trickle-down effect when leaders show trust in their management! When employees understand that the CEO has faith in their manager, they will tend ot have faith in their manager, too.

4.   Understanding the Big Picture

Amid a merger or acquisition, it can be easy to get lost in the details (and there are so many details!) However, leaders who see the big picture, and keep strategic goals front and center, are able to effectively meld two separate cultures. After all – no matter how work was done in the past, everyone has the same goal at the end of the day: create a company where employees thrive and your community continues to grow.

If you are interested in learning more about how to create effective leaders at your firm, or the impact on culture during an M&A, please reach out. There is nothing we love more than helping make the workplace a brighter place for all.

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