The Merger Dividend

by Ron Ashkenas, Suzanne Francis, and Rick Heinick, Harvard Business Review, July-August 2011.

Harvard Business Review During a merger, senior managers may be tempted to dictate strict assignments or hire consultants to do the heavy lifting. But that approach denies top leaders the chance to let their managers grow and develop. What's more, sticking with leaders already in place is the best way to build a team that can make the most of the new organization that will emerge. Companies can maximize the growth opportunities inherent in a merger by developing three specific leadership areas. The first, getting everyone on the same page, is best accomplished by drawing up what the authors call a "merger intent" document to clearly outline what's expected of everyone on both sides of the deal. The second, executing with discipline, involves putting people with high potential into critical short-term roles and letting them strengthen their abilities. It also involves setting immediate, challenging goals for teams in an attempt to boost achievement. The third leadership area, building an A-team, directs top managers to conduct an overall assessment of the talent available on both sides of the deal and create a team that reflects the best of the best. The integration process can be emotional and difficult. Giving up-and-coming leaders the chance to perform under pressure, however, will yield leadership dividends sure to benefit firms for years to come.

M&As present unique opportunities to develop leaders. Don't let the next deal slip through your fingers.


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