Leadership transition as transformation

June 4, 2010 · by Allison Porter · Filed Under Choices, Previous · Leave a Comment

Mary Kay Henry is the new president of SEIU International and Tom McNutt is the new president of UFCW Local 400. They are both moving from elected leadership positions into the top post. I mention this because I have been watching from various distances as both use this opportunity to drive real change.  They both want to re-focus on growth – not surprising after Employee Free Choice Act faded. And they both want more effective and aligned organizations.  They appear ready to lead, but what strikes me is not their bold vision or determination to change – which they both have – but rather their focus on relationships.

Maybe it is because they come from within the organization and everyone they meet already has a story about them in their heads.  Maybe because the old administrations had a firm grip on the culture.  Whatever the reason, they are both focused on reintroducing themselves and building relationships anew, as they prepare to make major changes.  This past week I saw Tom McNutt do just that at a staff retreat to launch the new era for Local 400.   He was open about his values and reflective on where he himself needed to change.  But what really seemed to shift the environment was the hour he spent in an interview with Joe down by the lake [see picture], sharing personal stories that illustrated his values and personality. Mary Kay Henry is also focused on relationship building, traveling nonstop to spend time with both allies and critics, inside and outside the organization.

My conclusion is that this reintroduction is a critical foundation for turning a leadership transition into a transformational moment.  What do you think?


Leave a Reply