Inauguration: Formality, or Imperative?

Mark Frasco - President


Leadership transition is often thought of as something to avoid. As salespeople, we publicize stability as a strength in our system. Partners and customers build deep relationships with stable leaders. Employees sense lower uncertainty and learn predictable patterns of behavior.

With great fear of replacing one monarchy with another, George Washington refused an easily attainable third term of office, leaving us with an important legacy: the peaceful transition of power. Only one U.S. president since has served more than two terms in office, Franklin D. Roosevelt (pictured above in his first of four inaugurations), which is now legislated against with the passing of the Twenty-Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1951.

Many small to mid-market organizations (typically those that are privately held), if successful, have learned how to provoke meaningful change, while maintaining similar leadership year after year. These leaders position improved talent in the right spots, build collaborative structures and maintain a restless characteristic, which creates variation in behaviors that produce better results.

Leadership transition, whether it is due to personnel change or self-invoked change, is critical to long-term success. One of the characteristics I look for in a leader is healthy discontent, a burning desire to improve the current condition, however good it is. The moment an organization congratulates itself for “making it,” they have certainly marked the earliest moments of their decline. Undoubtedly, celebrating success is important to the healthy development of any culture, but staying there for any prolonged period of time is counterproductive.

When a new leader hits the scene, that leader brings different experiences; has embedded, stretched expectations ;and was likely put in place to create new ways of thinking and acting which will better serve the organization. New leaders sometimes bring a new team, which is formed to create different outcomes. In the fullness of time, the organization learns to adjust to new ways of thinking and doing things.

I founded COACT fourteen years ago, and have been the leader all those years. My four direct reports have an average tenure of 10 years. We have enjoyed success beyond what I could’ve imagined at our inception. There isn’t a year that goes by, another record in the books, that I don’t pursue input and filter through the improvements we need to make. With the stability of our leadership, one of my greatest fears is that our familiarity with each other will lead to complacency. The first work day of each year, I present what success will look like this coming year, creating revived focus and aspiration… leadership transition.

“In commencing the duties of the chief executive office it has been the practice of the distinguished men who have gone before me to explain the principles which would govern them in their respective Administrations. In following their venerated example my attention is naturally drawn to the great causes which have contributed in a principal degree to produce the present happy condition of the United States. They will best explain the nature of our duties and shed much light on the policy which ought to be pursued in future.” – James Monroe, Fifth President of the United States, Inaugural Speech, 1817

Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States of America, administered by the 17th Chief Justice of the United States, John Roberts, Jr., on January 20, 2017.

While some might think an inauguration is a formality, in fact, it is an imperative. Inaugurations mark a change in leadership or leadership thought. An inauguration is thought of as a ceremony, but I like to think of it as the commencement of a new way of thinking about the future.

So, with this new year, I leave you with a challenge: develop an inauguration of new ideas that represent a leadership transition in thought.

Questions or comments? Please contact Mark Frasco at