Being in a new role can often place us in the position of feeling like a novice all over again. Even in roles where we bring our experience with us in ways that we can apply, a new role can mean a new organisation, a new team, new responsibilities, different accountability, and new stakeholders.
McKinsey reports that 90% of teams meet their three-year performance goals when a leadership transition is successful. They also experience less attrition, increase discretionary effort, and generate more profit. Yet, where a leadership transition is unsuccessful, there is 20% less engagement and 15% less performance.
Since between 27% and 46% of leadership transitions can be regarded as failing or disappointing, it is important to ask how leadership coaches can assist leaders in new roles.
Leadership Coaches Support Learning
“You can learn new things at any time in your life if you are willing to be a beginner. If you actually learn to like being a beginner, the whole world opens up to you.” - Barbara Sher
One way that leadership coaches can assist leaders in new roles is by supporting the learning journey. Being a novice is an excellent place to promote learning. By putting ourselves into the position of a novice on a regular basis, we could all learn to a greater degree, with more depth and meaning.
However, this can be an uncomfortable position to be in; some leaders find it necessary to present a strong front from day one. When we feel ‘new’ as leaders, we can sometimes make decisions and take actions that are about controlling the perceptions of others, such as the leadership team or significant stakeholders.
Working with a leadership coach can focus your attention on learning and growth so that decisions and actions can be based on true understanding and clear insights into the organisation. With your coach, you can learn to rest with the feelings and emotions of being a novice and make the most of your learning.
This blog looks at this in more detail.
Leadership Coaches Provide Psychological Safety
Tom Geraghty defines psychological safety as “an environment where [you] feel safe to speak up with ideas, questions, concerns or mistakes”.
Though this applies to teams and organisations, it also applies to leaders in new roles. Being in a new role can often mean that we initially feel less safe to speak out about our ideas and concerns, and it can additionally mean we are less confident to make mistakes.
The coaching space created by the leader and the leadership coach is a safe space to explore thinking, ideas, concerns, mistakes, possibilities, and problems. This is an invaluable resource for leaders taking up a new role. A safe space allows leadership coaches to ask questions with a deep understanding of leadership, accelerating a leader's progression when transitioning to a new position.
Leadership Coaches Bring Focus
Last but not least, leadership coaches can assist leaders in new roles by providing focus. When leaders begin a new role, many things can demand their attention; it is possible to become busy with activities that provide short-term gains but do little to establish future performance.
Coaching allows time to reflect, which is often lacking for many leaders, especially when a leader takes a new role. Reflection can focus on the bigger picture and also the detail of how processes and procedures are impacting the business. Focusing on the organisation in this way allows for a systems thinking approach.
Areas to focus on can include:
Clarity and alignment to purpose and strategy
Creating a great culture and climate
The impact of your communication
Setting standards and aspiring to live up to them
Future capability and capacity
As we have looked at how leadership coaches can assist leaders in new roles in this blog, we have explored maximising learning opportunities, creating psychological safety for openness, honesty and reflection, and bringing focus.
If you are interested in exploring how we at The Leadership Coaches can support you in transitioning your leaders into new roles, get in touch and further the conversation with our qualified accredited and experienced team coaches.
Written by Ian at The Leadership Coaches
Successfully Transitioning to new Leadership Roles, by McKinsey
What is psychological safety, by Tom Geraghty