Strategically Leveraging Mergers and Acquisitions for Targeted Leadership Development

Published on
April 3, 2024
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Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) offer organizations a chance to grow in the market, but they also carry significant risks if mishandled. Investing in targeted and relevant leadership development from the outset is crucial for the success of an M&A. Unfortunately, many organizations struggle to meet their financial and strategic goals, with failure rates ranging from 70% to 90%. This underscores the high stakes involved.

Leadership impact and culture alignment play an incredible role during every stage of an M&A. Leaders of all levels set the tone for navigating changes and uncertainty by leading with a growth mindset. With a simple approach to ensuring your leaders gain competencies and skills, your organization can lead a successful M&A while empowering your managers to take the lead. 

In this blog post, we will explore how businesses can leverage M&A to accelerate leadership development to see faster results during a time of transformation, enhance their leadership pipeline, and focus on the most critical roles in the company that will lead to a successful transition.

Identifying Leadership Gaps and Opportunities

One of the first steps in utilizing M&A for leadership development is assessing the existing leadership landscape within both the acquiring and acquired organizations. Before the merger begins, assess the leadership gaps, strengths, and opportunities so your company can create a roadmap for developing a robust leadership development strategy during and after the acquisition. This evaluation process should consider factors such as skill sets, competencies, leadership styles, and potential leaders who can drive the organization forward. For example, New Level Work’s 360 Assessment is designed to measure leaders and managers skills from mindset to tangible business outcomes and aligns personal growth to organizational goals. This lightweight, comprehensive, scientifically validated tool targets overall leadership gaps, so your company can focus on tailored learning plans.

Integration of Leadership Development Coaching and Programs

During an M&A process, integrating leadership development programs from both entities can be a powerful way to leverage existing resources and expertise. 

The most strategic moments of implementing leadership development training are pre-merger and during acquisition. For example, change management is critical in M&A. New leaders come in, new goals are set, and new processes are introduced that impact the entire organization. This can cause a whirlwind of ambiguity, uncertainty, and stress. As a best practice, consider workshops or group coaching on Change Management practices and skills, such as active listening, strategic thinking, and measurement and analytics. This will ensure that managers of all levels understand the complexities of the M&A process and communicate clearly and consistently with their teams.

By identifying areas of improvements and skills gaps, organizations can create a cohesive and comprehensive leadership development framework that caters to the needs of the newly merged entity. This integration should aim to blend the strengths of both organizations while addressing any gaps or inconsistencies in leadership development.

Cross-Pollination of Talent and Knowledge

Mergers and acquisitions bring together diverse talent pools with unique skill sets, experiences, and perspectives. To maximize the potential for leadership development, organizations should foster cross-functional collaboration, create mentorship opportunities, and encourage knowledge sharing among leaders and emerging talent from both organizations. This will allow you to gain insight on how teams work before bridging the gaps and identify work structures and processes. This cross-pollination of talent enriches the leadership pipeline and cultivates a culture of learning, innovation, and continuous improvement. 

Empowering Emerging Managers, Accelerating Experienced Leaders

Identifying and nurturing emerging leaders is essential for the long-term success of the organization in the context of M&A. By creating leadership development programs specifically tailored to high-potential employees from pre- and post-acquisition teams, companies can cultivate a new generation of leaders who embody the values, vision, and strategic direction of the combined entity. 

Examples of high-potential employees:

  • Drivers: Business Unit Leaders just below the executive level who drive change by transforming business objectives and strategies into execution. 
  • Accelerators: High Performance Managers another layer down who are skilled, ambitious, and represent a significant source of operating advantage if properly directed and inspired. 
  • Emerging Managers - New managers in the organization that with the right foundation can make tangible contributions immediately. 

These programs should provide opportunities for skill-building, mentorship, exposure to different functions, and hands-on leadership experience to empower emerging leaders to take on expanded organizational roles and responsibilities.

Measuring Impact and Iterating for Success

As with any strategic initiative, measuring the impact of leadership development efforts post-M&A is crucial for ongoing success. Organizations should establish key performance indicators (KPIs) to evaluate the effectiveness of leadership development programs, track progress, and identify areas for improvement. Companies can continuously enhance their leadership pipeline and drive organizational growth in a dynamic post-acquisition environment by collecting feedback, conducting regular assessments, and iterating on the leadership development strategy based on insights and results.


Mergers and acquisitions present a ripe opportunity for organizations to not only expand their market share but also to target leadership development as a catalyst for long-term success strategically. By leveraging both entities' strengths, resources, and talent, organizations can create a dynamic leadership development ecosystem that nurtures talent, empowers emerging leaders, fosters innovation, and drives organizational growth. Through a strategic and integrated approach to leadership development within the context of M&A, companies can position themselves for sustainable success in an ever-evolving business landscape. 

Learn how New Level Work can set you up for success in an upcoming merger and acquisition. No matter what stage your company is in, we have you covered with our comprehensive coaching and training and actionable insights to help you measure your success.

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