Transitioning Leaders Using EOS™ Tools

by Aug 22, 2023Culture, EOS, Honest Culture, Insights, Leadership, Leadership Transitions

When you have a member of your leadership team leave, filling a key seat with a new person can happen one of two ways: smoothly or chaotically. Utilizing the tools provided by EOS can support your efforts to ensure a smooth transition, setting that new person up for success and providing the resources to navigate the messy parts as they arise.

Here’s another benefit of a smooth transition: preserving, and often building, the team’s health. Transitions are full of opportunities to build trust and increase team performance.

Here are my top recommended tools to increase the likelihood of a smooth transition.


The first question to address is whether the team has all the right people in the right seats. Using the Accountability Chart and People Analyzer, rate all the direct reports of the transitioning leadership role and any other key roles that directly support this team. Are there any people issues? If there are, deal with them before the new leader shows up.

The worst thing you can task a new leader with is to start a 3-strike process in the first 90 days in their role. The other step is to review and, if necessary, reset the accountabilities in their seat on the accountability chart to reflect what the organization needs and hire for it.

Neglect these tools and you’re handing your new leader a mess right off the bat or hiring someone that GWCs (G = Gets It, W = Wants It, C = has Capacity to do it) the current role but not the real needs of the organization. If that’s the reality of your current situation, it’s important to get to work immediately to implement the Accountability Chart and People Analyzer to get your organization on the path toward “smooth.”

Assess Team Organization Foundation with the 3-Step Process Documenter

Provide your new leader—and those around them—with a clear understanding of the core processes they will own or be impacted by. When it comes to core processes, the relationships is pretty simple:

Core processes named, defined and followed-by-all (FBA) = Smooth
Core processes not named, not defined, or FBA = Chaos

When we ignore the importance of documenting processes, things get messy. Throw a leadership transition into the mix, especially if you’re losing valuable knowledge without processes in place, and you find chaos. If your organization is dealing with “messy,” you can begin addressing that by accurately documenting your various processes. It’ll make it much easier to onboard your new leader and the team.


We often overlook the gift of time in transitions, whether it is two weeks or a month. Use the time between the announcement and the last day to complete the rocks the person is assigned, create interim plans for who will sit in the seat as the interim leader of the team, and who will take over the L10’s / 5-5-5 / quarterlies for the team. The hidden benefit of this work is that you will see people step up and fill the leadership void, and show you a new level of leadership capacity.


The title of this section says it all. If you are surprised by an announced departure, something in the performance tools you have been given is broken and it could be your ability to LMA (Leadership + Management = Accountability). Your first priority is to manage the change.

Your next priority is to have an open and honest conversation around the question “How did we miss this?” There will be times when things just happen outside of your control, yet we should never assume that and be willing to do something in EOS we call Enter the Danger by asking hard questions.

EOS gives you all the tools to minimize the chaos in a leadership transition and move it to smooth and effective. By assessing the health of the team, rethinking the replacement role, taking a deep dive into the core processes, and using the time you have to create a clear plan to manage the transitions, you could actually end up with a stronger and healthier team. 

If you have questions, I’m the only Scott Patchin on the internet, so I’m pretty easy to find! Either connect with me on LinkedIn, or shoot me an email to

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