Heir Apparent: Conflicts in the Corridors of Power: Equations and Possibilities


As a consultant to the “succession planning” exercise for the position of the CEO, the initiatives included the following:

Agreed upon incubation for the candidates identified (internally) to go through the practices, process and proficiency at the client headquarters overseas for the role.
The candidates were integrated into special projects with the idea to give them the exposure to the intricacies of the role.
The participants were subjected to an “assessment center  to find the exactness and fitment for the role, after the internal assessment was found to be inadequate to adjudge the appropriateness of the candidates for the role.

The concerns at the incumbent’s end:

The two candidates in question were found below par for the role which necessitated considering a third candidate to undergo the similar process as devised for the two other candidates. The third candidate was the Head of Human Resources who incidentally was privy to the process, recommendations, feedback and developments with respect to the two other candidates.
The third candidate underwent similar rigors of succession planning and emerged as the satisfactory choice for the role. She was elevated to the role of a COO with an understanding that she will take the time to develop skills and competencies with respect to manufacturing, production, finance etc under the guidance of the incumbent and on satisfactory “internal assessment” would be considered for the coveted role. The candidate has achieved a score of 3 out of 5 in the mid year review which is ‘satisfactory’ but does not include the 360 degree feedback.
The incumbent has however, started receiving conflicting signals from the head quarters that there could have been an element of ‘bias’ and ‘prejudice’ in the selection process of the COO. The exercise was not impartial as the third candidate was privy to the process, recommendations, feedback and developments with respect to the two other candidates.

In the meanwhile, the equation between the incumbent and the head quarters witnessed a significant progress when the following took place after June, 2012.

Enhancement in the capital expenditure authority.
The Indian unit getting recognized as the single biggest contributor to the global operations.
A bigger role getting discussed for the incumbent in the global canvass.

Despite an unwritten clause of hand-holding between the COO and the incumbent, a series of conflicting indications were getting emitted (as per the incumbent), which is as follows:
Decisions with respect to policies and practices were getting independently decided upon by the COO without consulting the incumbent.
The incumbent’s views were neither getting respected nor appreciated by the COO. “As long as I do not come to you, you stay where you are”.
On September, 2102: a statement from the COO was recorded as, “I have been watching that you are uncomfortable after my promotion as the COO”.
The COO even took umbrage of the ‘succession planning’ as an exercise by deciding to operated most of the times form the city office and being infrequent to the works/factory site.

The following are the outcome of probe with the incumbent.

The incumbent is clearly and definitely missing out on the action taking place in the organisation. Feeling ‘left-out’ and unable to reconcile to the fact that he himself did not wish to perpetuate his tenure with the client organisation beyond the contract. In light of the improved equations, however, the incumbent is back to the limelight.
The incumbent is missing out largely on the ‘transactions’.
The incumbent is insistent of his age not being on his side and yet not demonstrating the required initiative to resolve and is evidently hesitant of confronting the situation of ‘control’ and ‘inter-personal equations’ in his self defined prognosis of the inevitability of conflict.
The incumbent is also missing out on the equations that he had with the COO.
The incumbent is inadvertently encouraging speculations, grapevine and discordant notes between the peers by lending his ears to ‘discussions’ about the COO in her inability to grasp the role and getting compared with the incumbent.

The following possibilities require to be addressed as one of the outcome when the incumbent meets the global leaders, overseas:

Would be asked to give time to the COO and ensure that she is ready for the role of a Managing Director.
Will not be required in the organisation beyond the contract.
Will be asked to enact a larger role in establishing the broader business perspective of the parent company in India and use the residual time in managing the leadership crisis in the current organisation.
Would be relieved of his responsibility and asked to hand hold an expat for the role of a Managing Director.
Would be asked to manage the metrics as a part time resource.

Its important that the incumbent takes measured steps in reinforcing the belief within the organisation that has grown with him and not without him. Despite the best of efforts, its difficult to disassociate the incumbent's hands-on approach in lending credibility to the organisation and its flair in the market, for, the organisation is identified by the interface that the incumbent has become. Its about time that the incumbent clearly and distinctly demarcates a boundary between the organisation with him and without him by fueling the rumor mongers with the much desired 'news' and 'views' on reaffirming his supremacy and equation with the parent organisation by shifting the limelight and the locus of control from the right perceptions to slight perceptions. And, parallely develop a collaborative approach in fostering the right leadership by nurturing the best equations, matrix and approach.



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