Research Paper: Coaching Leaders in Transition

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Coaching Leaders in Transition | 1 Research Paper Assessment Name: Karen Atwell Date: 7/30/12 Student ID: 264895 Email: [email protected] Complete your 2000 word research paper and insert it in the space below. Then email this document as an attachment to [email protected] ©2012 Dynamic Perspectives, Inc. All rights reserved

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Promoting successful employees, managers and leaders creates a unique set of challenges for the organization, the transitioning leader and the team he/she leads. Without the support of skill building, coaching and process articulation new leaders can become lost and unproductive. Having clarity around what skills and behaviors to keep, start and stop during transition translates quickly to the productivity and emotional well-being of direct reports and peers. http://www.icoachacademy.com/blog/coaching-resources/research-papers/karen-atwell-the-challenges-of-organizational-transition/

Transcript of Research Paper: Coaching Leaders in Transition

Coaching Leaders in Transition | 1

Research Paper Assessment Name: Karen Atwell Date: 7/30/12 Student ID: 264895 Email: [email protected]

Complete your 2000 word research paper and insert it in the space below. Then email this document as an attachment to [email protected]

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Coaching Leaders in Transition | 2

Table of ContentsIntroduction ..................................................................................................................... 3 The Challenges of Organizational Transition ................................................................. 3 How Can Coaching Help? .............................................................................................. 5 Optimizing the Effectiveness of Transition Coaching .................................................... 6 Conclusion .................................................................................................................... 11 Bibliography ................................................................................................................. 13 Notes ............................................................................................................................. 13

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IntroductionPromoting successful employees, managers and leaders creates a unique set of challenges for the organization, the transitioning leader and the team he/she leads. Without the support of skill building, coaching and process articulation new leaders can become lost and unproductive. Having clarity around what skills and behaviors to keep, start and stop during transition translates quickly to the productivity and emotional well-being of direct reports and peers. More and more companies today are hiring outside coaches to help increase the speed to effectiveness of recently promoted leaders. This paper explores the issues during transition, the application of coaching during transition as well as thought-provoking coaching approaches.

The Challenges of Organizational TransitionLeaders in transition are often riding the wave of prior successes as they begin their new roles, but there is serious danger in assuming that what made one successful in a prior role will make one successful again. Clearly, leaders must tune into their key strengths and leverage them, but leaders in transition must also look courageously and honestly inward to understand their own leadership vulnerabilities. The higher level the leader, the more risk of derailment, and, therefore, the more need to mitigate the risk. Knowing ones vulnerabilities and how to compensate for them is essential. (Paese & Wellins)

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It has been the practice of American business to simply promote their best performers and trust that they will figure it out as they move into new leadership roles in the organization. In practice, however, the skills, processes and behaviors that created success at one level, most often are not the most effective as one moves up or over in the organization. Making a transition requires intentional change and awareness around the necessary skills, application of time and the values they bring to the role. One study conducted by DDI (Development Dimensions International) explains, When asked how well their companies provide support to prepare leaders for a new transition, just 27.8 percent of American leaders indicate organizations were doing a good job overall. We looked more closely at five best practices essential to successful transitions. In all areas, only 17 to 36 percent of leaders think their organizations effectively manage aspects of leadership transitions.i

When the appropriate support is not provided, newly promoted leaders arrive unprepared and struggle as they work to figure out what they need to learn, change and implement. This, of course leads to frustration. In a 2005 study, the Learning and Development Roundtable concluded that 46% of transitioning leaders under perform in their new role. The report also shows that in any given year, nearly half of an organizations workforce is directly impacted by the transition these leaders undergo. (Learning and Development Roundtable, 2005) Its not that the newly promoted leader fails or derails, its that their speed to productivity and effectiveness is significantly slowed.

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How Can Coaching Help?Current wisdom has introduced the practice of providing a coach to help transitioning leaders increase their awareness of the role differences, identify behavior and skill gaps and create an intentional plan for integration. This plan is not just for their benefit, but also to benefit direct reports, peers and stakeholders. The goal for any transitioning leader is to minimize disruption and maximize productivity as well as employee and client satisfaction and/or engagement. This, of course, should be the focus of the coach as well. Identifying the specific needs of the leader is, therefore, the challenge.

In Jim Suttons abstract, Coaching Leadership Transitions, he discusses the role of the coach in support of leadership transitions. Coaching for successful leadership transitions is much more than supporting leadership development (growing in the role). The value of transition coaching is to accelerate the process by collapsing the time needed to learn the new job, to build trust and credibility, and to speed up the time for delivering business results. The professional executive coach plays a key role by helping the transitioning leader in six crucial areas: 1. Realizing the business and organization realities they face 2. Understanding the new skills and behavioral requirements 3. Creating a new level of self-awareness strengths, weaknesses and blind spots relative to the requirements of the new role

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4. Navigating transition challenges and building transition capability by accelerating the rate at which trust is created and open communication is established 5. Establishing goals and creating an action plan 6. Providing support

Many companies today have identified the key leadership competencies necessary to be recognized as an effective leader. Some have even identified derailing behavior as well. Derailers such as over promising and under delivering are easy to assess. Others are far more challenging. Incorporating internal measuring sticks, such as competencies and performance markers, helps the transitioning leader deliver results in a way that is congruent with the culture of the organization. Coaching can provide a forum for transitioning leader, (and, in some cases, his/her team), to step out of the intensity of transition and work on, (instead of in), the new role.

Optimizing the Effectiveness of Transition CoachingThere are many factors that impact the effectiveness of transition coaching. It is not one-size-fits-all. Additionally, there are significant differences in coaching needs based on the transitioning leaders position, their relationships with those around them and their influence, (both positional and projected). In his book, The First 90 Days, Michael Watkins writes, The challenges of transition acceleration vary depending on situational factors. It matters a great deal whether you are making a key career

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passage in terms of level in the organization, whether you are an insider or an outsider, whether you have formal authority, and whether you are taking over a successful or troubled group.ii

The DDI study also looked at the skills most wanted by the leaders in transition. The table below shows that the desired skills vary depending on the type of leadership role one is transitioning into. This type of data helps to demonstrate that a coach must understand the role, situation and position of the transitioning leader in order to deliver recognized sustainable value.

SKILLS MOST WANTED FOR TRANSITION BY LEVELOverall Coaching/developing others Building strong teams Influencing skills Deal with complexity/ambiguity Managing performance Create & share inspiring vision Strategic thinking ability Networking skills Selecting talent Financial training Business acumen Global acumen 35.6% 33.8% 30.6% 30.1% 26.8% 24.4% 22.6% 21.6% 16.6% 8.8% 8.3% 4.2% People 42% 37.4% 34.5% 31.9% 28.6% 21.4% 21.8% 17.2% 15.5% 8.8% 7.6% 1.3% Operational 25.5% 27.4% 27.4% 28.3% 25.5% 30.2% 25.5% 25.5% 15.1% 8.5% 7.5% 6.6% Strategic 24.4% 29.3% 17.1% 24.4% 19.5% 26.8% 19.5% 36.6% 26.8% 9.8% 14.6% 14.6%

(Percentage choosing, multiple selecting per respondent. Bold figures are top response for each level of leaders.)

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The table above shows that working through others dominates top-rated skills needed in making transitions. Coaching others, building teams, influencing, and managing performance are all skills directly associated with the shift to a focus on the contributions of others. Far less important are the skills associated with individual effectiveness, such as business acumen or financial training. Interesting shifts also occur as one climbs the leadership ladder. For people leaders, coaching, team building, and influencing top the list of wanted skills. A shift occurs at the senior level, however, when networking becomes the most desired skill. For operational and strategic leaders, creating and sharing an inspiring vision also ranks close to the top. (Paese & Wellins)

These findings tell us that the transitioning leader, (as well as the coach), must fully understand the role they are moving into and identify the skills or behaviors they will need to allow for success for themselves and those around him/her. It is also important to understand the business and organizational realities. The gathering of 360 degree feedback that is specific to the transition can add to the richness of the transitioning leaders work in coaching. The use of assessments, (either individually or across a team), such as Myers Briggs, DiSC or others can also enrich coaching conversation and accelerate effectiveness.

In the article, How Managers Become Leaders, the author, Michael D. Watkins, writes that the seven seismic shifts function heads must make when first becoming enterprise leaders involve learning new skills and cultivating new mindsets.iii These are:

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Specialist to Generalist Analyst to Integrator Tactician to Strategist Bricklayer to Architect Problem Solver to Agenda Setter Warrior to Diplomat Supporting Cast Member to Lead Role

These seven shifts require both a change of a functional heads process for managing and the behaviors he/she uses to lead as he/she moves into an enterprise leader position. Using coaching conversation as a way to explore these shifts promotes awareness, learning, success and speed to effectiveness.

There are many models like the one above for establishing an intentional path through the transition maze. Finding or creating a model for coaching through transition can provide a place to begin from. Factors that will aide in success include: Being diligent around the creation of a formal coaching plan and continually revisiting the plan is an effective way to manage the coaching process. When engaged through the enterprise, scheduling check-in meetings along the way with key stakeholders can identify wins and challenges early so that performance for both the leader and the company can be optimized.

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The agility of the coach is a key component in the success of the transitioning leader and his/her team. Remembering that one size does not fit all and that key topics may change based on position, circumstance and performance.

Check-in frequently by phone for accountability around execution of commitments made during coaching

Offer to role play tough conversations helping the transitioning leader to use new skills and approaches

Offer to facilitate team coaching sessions to aide in the speed to team effectiveness

One of the challenges with Transitional Coaches is the energy necessary to manage the nature of duality inherent in the process - the intensity of coaching for both individual performance and organizational performance. Jim Sutton sites the work of David Dotlich and Peter Cairo offering tips to stay on track as a coach.iv Take breaks during the coaching process that allows you and your client to reflect on the issues involved; dont problem-solve yourself to death and lose sight of the larger business issues. Keep your own coaching journal that documents what you have talked about with the person youre coaching; have a column for business requirements discussed and one for behaviors and development issues. Is there a balance between the two? Avoid jumping to simplistic conclusions.

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Think holistically; consider all the factors that may affect individual behaviors and organizational requirements, including the problematic behaviors of others (boss, customers, direct reports), the competitive environment (resulting in tremendous pressure for performance), or the career aspirations of the individual and personal crisis (for example, a divorce, illness, death of a loved one, etc.).

ConclusionThe leadership transition is challenging for the leader, his/her constituents and the organization. Helping these leaders identify the changes they must make in skills, processes and behaviors is paramount to their eventual success. The speed at which that success is reached, however, in important to all stakeholders. For that reason, many organizations are seeking the assistance of professional leadership coaches.

Coaches can be instrumental in helping a leader in transition examine the true needs inherent in their new role. Through coaching, the leader can more quickly address skills and behaviors and create a transition plan that will accelerate the success of all parties involved. Aligning this transition plan to the expectations of stakeholders as well as the cultural competencies and values is another way coaches can impact an executives success during transition and beyond. Providing accountability and support and connecting the client to additional resources is also a valuable contribution coaches can make2012 Dynamic Perspectives, Inc. All rights reserved

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There is any number of process maps created around the first 100 days of transition. These can provide a foundational roadmap for transition coaching. The key is to remember that the needs will vary based on the skills and behaviors the transitioning executive brings to the table as well as the position he/she is moving into. Being agile in the coaching approach will set the stage for a more transformational experience.

Finally, the pace and intensity of transition coaching is greater than most other forms of executive/leadership coaching in that the first 90 days is critical. A coach will need to pay attention to his/her own energy, impulses and coaching challenges in an effort to continually bring a calm centered coaching style to the conversation.

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BibliographyBlanchard, K. (2007). Leading at a Higher Level. Prentice Hall. Fournies, F. F. (2000). Coaching for Improved Work Performance. McGraw-Hill. Goldsmith, M. (n.d.). What Got You Here Won't Get You There. Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (2007). The Leadership Challenge. San Franciso: JosseyBass. Learning and Development Roundtable. (2005). Navigating Leaders Across Critical Upward Transitions: A Quantitative Analysis of the Drivers of TansitioningLeader Success. Corporate Executive Board. Paese, M. P., & Wellins, R. S. (n.d.). Leaders In Transition - Stepping Up or Stepping Out. Development Dimensions International. Sutton, J. (n.d.). Coaching Leadership Transitions. Watkins, M. D. (2003). The Frist 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels. Boston: Harvard Bsiness School Press. Watkins, M. D. (2012, June). How Managers Become Leaders. Harvard Business Review, pp. 65-72.

Notesi

Paese, Matt, Ph.D. and Wellins, Richard S., Ph.D. (n.d.) Leaders in Transition: Stepping Up, Not Off. Development Dimensions International (DDI World). ii Watkins, Michael D., (2003). The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Level, 30-31 iii Watkins, Michael D., (2012, June). How Managers Become Leaders. Harvard Business Review. 65-72 iv Sutton, Jim, (n.d.) Coaching Leadership Transition, Bois DArc Leadership, 8

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