2013 06-02 iStock_000003052514XSmall Teamwork
Leadership View #8:

Merging two organizations gives a leader an opportunity to form a new culture / leadership team / operating style.  A common mistake is to adopt one or the other, thereby creating winners and losers.  

This leadership view is actually a continuation of Leadership View #7 where I talked about getting buy-in during a merger. Once we have that buy-in from the early majority, the next question to answer is:  what will be the culture, leadership and operating style of the combined group?

Remembering that a “merger” can mean combining two companies, two groups, or simply adding a significant number of new team members.

In my experience the culture bends. Last year, I added several new members to my Vistage CEO group and most of these new members came from other CEO groups where they had been members for some time. The groups they came from had their own culture, operating style and formal and informal leadership.

Here is what I learned from that experience.

First, the integration must be intentional. The people that were there first, feel a sense of ownership of the group. The new people want to add value. The challenge is creating situations that allow for both. The following steps worked for us:

-We form workgroups including members with various tenure and personality styles – sometimes the official leader was from the new group, sometimes from the old.

-New members were given the opportunity to showcase their expertise in a way that helped the group.

-We recognized that groups follow Bruce Tuckman’s model of forming, storming, norming, performing and they do it continuously. The merged group naturally moved through this process at it’s own pace.

The result: The group today is an integrated group with many of the same values as before, yet with updated norms and a new culture, well on its way to high performing.


Elisa K. Spain


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