3. Understanding of the business and functional areas
To lead an organization through a major transformational event such as an integration, leaders need a deep understanding of how their own company operates, how the acquired company manages its business, where the competition is going and major trends in the respective industry. The integration leader knows how to get things done, where to look for answers and whom to contact. Great leaders must understand the priorities, operating needs and responsibilities of the different work streams, and be able to anticipate, plan and solve for cross‑functional interdependencies.
4. Trust of top management, with the authority to make timely decisions
Integrations are conducted on tight timelines with little room for errors, requiring the integration leader to be trusted to make operational decisions and to know when strategic choices need to be reviewed more broadly. Integration leaders should be able to command respect and be comfortable making decisions with incomplete information. This will enable them to break down roadblocks and keep the integration moving forward.
5. Financial acumen
A background in finance can be extremely helpful to an integration leader. He or she will need to understand both companies’ historical and forecasted financial performance and how the combined entity will perform. In addition, the integration leader will be responsible for building and managing the integration budget and identifying, tracking and capturing synergies.
6. Ability to think strategically
It is essential that the integration leader keep the strategic goals of the integration in mind. Developing an integration strategy and setting integration guiding principles are some of the first responsibilities on which to focus. Throughout the integration, the goals may change or new goals may be identified so the integration leader must constantly review the integration plans and confirm that they still support the evolving deal model, assumptions and goals of the organization. The integration leader also needs to make sure the plan and team can quickly pivot when necessary.