The leader is leaving: make the team ready for the change

This case study shows how sociomapping can be leveraged to prepare teams for team leaders leaving and to prepare them for a new phase of leadership.

Change in the leadership style is a very frequent reason why people leave the team.

Change in leadership is quite common for most teams. This situation poses many risks and the better the team is prepared for the scenario, the smoother the transition. Ideally, all communication channels with the team leader should be delegated to his or her successor or another team member. It often happens that despite prior knowledge of the change in leadership, team members continue to communicate the same way – they don’t acknowledge properly the new situation. As a consequence, communication chaos sets in after the former team leader leaves.

Lessons from an IT company: how Sociomapping can help

Head of a team consisting of 4 departments was leaving. His position was to be taken over by one of the current team members. The 4 departments were: Sales and Marketing; Customer, Development and Project support; HR; and Web development.

We focused on mapping communication channels in order to assess to what extent the team has acknowledged the upcoming change and thus whether they are ready. The frequency of communication (both current and desired) and its importance are the key aspects to look at.

Current vs. desired frequency of communication

The maps of the current and desired frequency of communication show that Jakob, the leaving leader, would like to decrease his frequency of communication with the team and withdraw gradually. The team, however, still wants to communicate with him very often, even more, that they do now (see the desired frequency map), and considers him the most important person. Significantly, the team does not communicate with Sara (the future leader) as much as her future position requires and much less compared to her will. The team also does not see her as that important. Sociomapping thus showed that the team was not entirely ready for the change as Sara didn’t hold a strong enough position within the team to satisfy team members’ communication needs.


As the situation in the team was made clear visually by sociomapping, the team realized the necessity to modify the communication channels. The sociomapping facilitator helped the team to agree on action plans which then led to faster inclusion of Sara to key decision-making processes and in effect made the transition relatively smooth.

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