• May 09 2024

Accelerating Leadership Readiness: When to Invest in Coaching

Organizations are increasingly recognizing and investing in coaching as a high-impact method for developing leaders. Coaching can be beneficial for employees at any stage of their careers to help them develop self-awareness and navigate career challenges. However, there are a few critical moments in a leaders’ development when coaching can play a particularly impactful role. 

Understanding when and how to invest in coaching for your leaders is crucial for maximizing ROI and other critical outcomes for your business. Read on to learn how coaching can accelerate leader readiness at three critical inflection points: when employees are identified as potential leaders, when they face major organizational change, and when they are tapped as potential successors for executive roles. 

Emerging leaders and high-potential employees

Many companies implement high-potential (HiPo) employee programs to identify and develop talent for future leadership positions. Getting tapped as a potential leader is a critical inflection point for an employee. Beyond developing new knowledge and learning frameworks for leadership, many HiPos need extra support shifting their mindset from high-performer to business leader. 

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Leadership coaching can provide a new lens that helps leaders shift focus and accelerate their readiness to lead. Here are a few ways that leadership coaching can support HiPo development: 

Goal-setting and alignment to organizational objectives: Coaches work with employees to set goals for their professional development. These goals are aligned with both the individual’s aspirations and the organization’s objectives. By setting clear goals, employees have a roadmap to guide their development efforts and organizations can feel confident that future leaders are developing the capabilities that are needed to drive business performance.

Leadership presence: Coaches support leaders to gain self-awareness about how others perceive them, leverage positive perceptions, and mitigate negative perceptions. By developing self-awareness and honing a strong leadership brand, leaders build trust and currency that make them more effective leaders.

Communication skills: Effective leadership relies heavily on strong communication and interpersonal skills. Coaches work with employees to improve their ability to communicate clearly, listen actively, provide feedback, resolve conflicts, and build rapport with others.

Confidence and resilience: Leadership roles often require individuals to navigate uncertainty, overcome obstacles, and make difficult decisions. Coaches help high-potential employees to build confidence in their abilities and develop resilience to bounce back from setbacks.

Strategic thinking: Coaches help employees think strategically and approach problems from multiple perspectives. Through strategic planning exercises, case studies, and feedback on real-world projects, coaches help HiPo leaders develop the ability to analyze complex situations and make informed decisions. 

    Leaders facing major organizational change

    Mid- to senior-level managers may need coaching intervention to help them navigate novel challenges and complexity associated with major organizational change, such as a reduction or expansion of workforce, re-org, merger, acquisition, or business transformation. In these circumstances, the strategies and tactics that previously yielded success may no longer be effective, and leaders will need to rapidly develop new skill sets and pivot their mindset to meet immediate business needs. 

    Coaching interventions for these pivotal leadership moments can help leaders:

    Navigate complexity and ambiguity: Major organizational change often comes with increased ambiguity and shifting strategies. Coaches help these leaders develop the ability to navigate uncertainty, adapt to change, and manage competing priorities effectively. This may involve coaching on agile decision-making, prioritization techniques, and maintaining focus amidst ambiguity.

      Adopt a systems thinking approach: Mid-level leaders need to develop a systems thinking approach to understand how their actions impact the broader organization during times of transformation. Coaches help these leaders analyze interdependencies, identify potential unintended consequences, and make decisions that optimize outcomes across the entire system. This may involve coaching on systems mapping, feedback loops, and understanding organizational dynamics.

      Manage resistance and overcome obstacles: Mid-level leaders often encounter resistance, skepticism, or pushback from team members or other stakeholders during business transformation. Coaches provide support in identifying sources of resistance, empathizing with concerns, and addressing them constructively. This may involve coaching on active listening, conflict resolution, and reframing challenges as opportunities for growth.

      Develop team agility and innovation: Business transformation requires mid-level leaders to embrace agility and foster innovation within their teams. Coaches help these leaders cultivate a culture of experimentation, learning from failure, and adapting quickly to changing circumstances. Coaching interventions may include brainstorming sessions, design thinking workshops, and encouraging a mindset of continuous improvement.

      Balance short-term demands with long-term vision: Mid-level leaders must balance the immediate demands of day-to-day operations with the long-term vision of the transformation journey. Coaches assist these leaders in setting priorities, delegating effectively, and maintaining focus on strategic objectives while managing operational challenges. This may involve coaching on time management, delegation techniques, and aligning actions with the organization’s vision.


        Coaching is particularly effective for senior leaders who have been tapped as potential successors for an organization’s top roles. At this level, leaders need experienced coaches to prepare them–intellectually, psychologically, and emotionally–for the challenges and pressures they may face at the top of the organization. 

        Strategic vision and decision-making: Coaching for executive successors places a strong emphasis on developing strategic vision and decision-making skills. Coaches work closely with successors to help them think strategically, anticipate future trends, and make high-stakes decisions that align with the organization’s long-term goals. 

          Crisis management and risk mitigation: Executive roles often involve navigating crises and managing risks effectively. Coaches prepare successors to handle crises calmly and decisively, communicating transparently with stakeholders and taking appropriate actions to mitigate risks.

          Organizational culture and change leadership: Successors must understand and influence organizational culture to drive successful change initiatives. Coaches help successors assess the current culture, identify areas for improvement, and develop strategies to foster a culture of innovation, collaboration, and continuous improvement. 

            Transition planning: Coaching for executive successors includes support in planning for a smooth transition into the new role. Coaches help successors identify key priorities, build relationships with their future team and peers, and create a transition roadmap.

            Emotional intelligence: Executive roles come with increased pressure and scrutiny, requiring successors to possess high levels of emotional intelligence and resilience. Coaches help successors develop self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, and social skills necessary to navigate complex interpersonal dynamics and maintain composure under stress. Through mindfulness practices, stress management techniques, and confidential discussions, successors build the emotional resilience needed to thrive in demanding executive roles.

              By investing in coaching at these critical moments of an employee’s development, organizations help ensure capable leadership along the talent pipeline. 

              Interested in learning how ExecOnline coaches accelerate the development of leaders at some of the world’s most influential companies? Talk to us.

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