All Articles Leadership Management Helping your team transition to a new president or CEO

Helping your team transition to a new president or CEO

5 min read


Companies and organizations will eventually have to hire a new leader. Whether due to retirement, the resignation of a president or the need for a new direction, change is inevitable. The transition between past and future leaders can be tense and uncertain. However, by focusing on your organization’s priorities, communicating effectively, and stepping up as a leader, you can strengthen your team in the face of transformation.

Honesty in communication

Perhaps the most important aspect of a successful transition is honesty within the organization itself. The process of hiring a new leader can bring out the wolves. Everyone will have an opinion, some with merit and some just frustration. If you are asked about the reasons the new president or CEO was hired over somebody else, be direct and honest about those reasons.

If your organization values tried and true experience, communicate those priorities to your team. If the time was ripe for a new vision, acknowledge the need for such a change. The team needs you to lead more than ever when transitioning. Stay positive and reinforce the valid justification for hiring that new leader.

Essence of teamwork

The shakeup of new leadership can bring out incredibly admirable traits in co-workers, but it can also lead to fractures within a team. As a business owner or leader within an organization, you need to quell the internal debates that might occur. Of course, it’s not realistic to expect employees to not have opinions about major organizational moves, but the workplace should be a professional and productive environment.

A successful team is made up of people working to accomplish a common goal. Recognizing others’ strengths and utilizing those strengths is key to this success. Likewise, when you recognize weaknesses or negativity in your team, it is an opportunity to address those challenges and become a stronger team as a result. An important component of this is trusting the chain of command. Again, it’s natural to have concerns about transitions, but placing trust in your organization displays optimism and determination for you and your team.

Internal promotion vs. outside hiring

Internal versus external hiring is always a hot topic. The decision has ramifications for an entire company and it can alter employees’ perceptions of that company. It’s a difficult choice to weigh.

Internal hiring


  • The team knows the new president’s or CEO’s personality type and work ethic.
  • For most organizations, internal hiring is cheaper for the company, which could result in better compensation for all members of the team.


  • Competition for rank is nearly inevitable, which could lead to internal discord.
  • The new leader may be too close to people within the organization and not able to make difficult choices.

External hiring


  • An outsider has fresh ideas and perspectives. That “new blood” can be very beneficial for an organization that clings to the status quo.
  • An outsider can also make tough calls since he or she has no previous connection to the team. Personal preference or history does not influence decisions in this case.


  • While an outsider has the ability to make tough decisions due to a lack of history with peers in an organization, it takes time to build any kind of rapport with a team.
  • An outsider’s work ethic and personality traits are not truly known until he or she is part of that team.
  • Outside hiring is usually more expensive for an organization.

Each scenario can present challenges to your team. Confidence in the hiring team and new leadership is essential in welcoming the best person for the role.

The role of leaders

Senior leadership within an organization needs to be available to employees and fully support the new CEO or president. Nothing can do more damage than veterans of the company actively combating a new approach. That negativity spreads at an alarming rate. The hiring committee or trusted leaders need to take the plunge with complete certainty and encourage others to do the same.

Likewise, the new CEO or president has many key responsibilities and tasks to accomplish quickly. Clear communication and patience are necessary for effectively transitioning into the new role. Shaking things up right off the bat can be detrimental. Settling into the role and communicating with different departments about their expectations and concerns creates a more stable and constructive environment.

Ultimately, it is up to the new leader to plant the seeds and cultivate the continued growth of the organization. The stress of gaining a new organizational leader can be addressed and relieved through clear and honest discussion, ardent teamwork, and devotion to the goals and priorities of your organization.

Jordan Guernsey is the CEO of Molding Box, which provides order distribution, shipping, print services, and CD/DVD duplication. Guernsey started Molding Box in his mother’s basement and has grown the company into an Inc. 500 list member.