Effective leadership is vital in realising the potential value of mergers and acquisitions. Leaders need to communicate effectively to engage stakeholders across different cultures. This requires insight and imagination to understand the history and value of both businesses, but also the physical and emotional resilience needed to make difficult decisions about the future direction of the business to get through demanding times.
Leaders have a major role to play in terms of the changing culture of the organisation, both in embodying the style, skills and approach required for the new business to be successful, but also encouraging desirable activity and behaviours, both through the content and style of their interactions with all parties.
When selecting someone to lead a merger or acquisition organisations need to:
- invest time in selecting the most appropriate person
- think about the proposed values, style and modes of operation of the new organisation - these are generally a strong determinant of the most appropriate leader
- think about the leader's past experience, their areas of capability and their personal style - these are strong indicators of whether a person will be the right fit even before they make their first management decision.
Morale and engagement
It is people who determine the success or failure of businesses, and this is why maintaining employee engagement needs to be at the forefront of employers' minds when going through mergers and acquisitions. Only through firmly positioning people management at the heart of the process can the challenges of different approaches, such as communication, and other cultural obstacles to integration, be removed.
One of the key differences an effective leader can make is maintaining morale and engagement through the process. Leaders should:
- tell it as it is - mergers or acquisitions are often a must if organisations are to survive or reach their potential
- explain to stakeholders why the merger or acquisition is relevant and the advantages to them
- provide a clear and accurate view of what the future looks like, the path forward and the skills required
- provide a rationale to counterbalance the distress and discomfort that mergers often cause.
Common difficulties to overcome
There are a number of ways that organisations going through a merger or acquisiti