Leading Through Mergers and Acquisitions

Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) aggravate instability.

Leaders shine when they help people navigate uncertainty and instability. For example…

  1. New employees during onboarding.
  2. Moving from “Bud to Boss.”
  3. Terminations.
  4. Shifts in leadership and new reporting structures.
  5. Software integrations.

M&A reality:

Success takes many forms.

In recent years I’ve worked with corporate leaders and mid-level managers who navigated the turbulence of M&A. Some stayed. Others retired. Some have been promoted. Others found new employment.

Success is uncertain.

RIta Numerof, PhD, president of healthcare consulting firm Numerof and Associates said, “The reality is that around 40 percent of M&A in general, across industries, fail to deliver on the financial performance that the parents coming together in the first place wanted to achieve.” (Financial News)

Shining during M&A:

You don’t have to be a genius to thrive during an acquisition. Acts of compassion and selfless courage matter more during uncertainty and instability.

The best time to shine is when it’s dark.

Leadership goals:

#1. Row-with, not sideways. Help the parent company succeed or resign.

Tip: If you’re willing to relocate, tell your new parent.

#2. Help your team successfully navigate transition.

Inspirational leaders serve others when their own future is uncertain.

  • You are there to serve them. They aren’t there to serve you.
  • Listen, but don’t fix.
  • Help people see opportunities. What are their strengths and passions?

#3. Practice transparency.

  • State the obvious. “Change is coming. I’m not sure what it looks like.”
  • Be supportive. “We’ll work this out together.”
  • Don’t reveal secrets.
  • When in doubt, discuss transparency with your boss.

#4. Resolve resentment.

Mr. Sulkman resents change. (Not his real name.) He’ll end up terminated. He makes everyone miserable. His teams are bound to flounder.

  • How are teams better WITH you?
  • How are you energizing others?

Hate limits opportunity. Resentment shrinks life.

Tip: Practice self-reflection during M&A.*

What strategies best serve teams and leaders during an acquisition?

Bonus material:

*I’ve taken several leaders through emotional intelligence exercises during M&A. (Read Emotional Intelligence 2.0.)

Read the comments on yesterday’s post. (Leadership Freak)

What’s Behind the All-Time High in M&A? (Harvard.edu)

Surviving M&A (HBR)

How to Survive an M&A (Small Business)