New leaders shouldn't disrespect the past

Nick Wakeman

I recently had the chance to catch up with a friend who is a controller for a manufacturing plant.

During the past several years, the plant has been the company's top performer in terms of profitability, units produced, turnover, productivity and several other measures.

About a year ago, the plant manager was asked to open a new facility, and he moved on. My friend's plant has continued to be a top performer, but morale has plummeted under his replacement.

The new guy wants to make a name for himself. That's understandable, but the way he has been doing it is all wrong, my friend said.

The new plant manager sees his assignment as a turnaround. His attitude is that things are broken and must be fixed.

The conversation with my friend came back to me as I interviewed Jack London and Paul Cofoni for a story about Cofoni's elevation to chief executive officer of CACI International Inc.

Ironically, Cofoni spoke about the same mistake my friend's new plant manager is making.

New leaders "come in and try to prove themselves, and that can do a dishonor to the work that has gone on before them," he said.

The result is a form of organizational rejection.

That doesn't mean CACI won't be changing. London and Cofoni have big plans for making the company a tier-one player. Those plans have been in the works since Cofoni joined nearly two years ago.

But one challenge lies outside Cofoni's control, and that's how to get the government market booming again. That's everyone's problem.

About the Author

Nick Wakeman is the editor-in-chief of Washington Technology. Follow him on Twitter: @nick_wakeman.

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