Developing Your Talent

Develop Your Talent

Leader as Coach: Developing a Coaching Culture

By Lee Hecht Harrison on January 15, 2015

Is your organization using its own leaders as a resource for developing emerging and future leaders? If not, you may be missing out on one of the richest methods to improve leadership performance. Through the transfer of internal knowledge, skills and behaviors, companies leverage their own leaders as coaches to support the development of new leaders. The key is in developing a “coaching culture” as part of your leadership development strategy, mobilizing the inherent leadership skills in employees at all levels.

Empowerment at earlier stages in an individual’s career is a powerful motivator. Younger workers are hungry for opportunities that allow them to influence the organization, gain visibility and contribute at a higher level. When leadership competencies are promoted and encouraged throughout the organization, empowerment and collaboration takes place at multiple levels, bolstering the talent pipeline and enhancing an organization’s onboarding, retention and engagement efforts. Today, we see organizations that are seeking to develop leadership behaviors beyond the C-suite and high-potentials, not only to strengthen the internal pipeline for succession planning, but also to accrue greater benefits to their overall organization.

Many organizations still view coaching as a high-ticket item, a sentiment evidenced by an LHH/HCI research study where 78 percent of respondents reported a “lack of resources or funding” as the biggest impediment to establishing a coaching culture. If your organization shares this concern, there are inventive—and tailored—approaches to building a coaching culture that will support the development of a strong pipeline of leadership, while also making sense financially.

So how does a business with limited resources develop leaders as coaches? One approach is through a cost-effective shared learning model where one coach works either virtually or in person with four to six employees, promoting peer coaching relationships and fostering a coaching culture throughout the organization. Typically, this model begins with a workshop where specific coaching skills are presented and practiced. In subsequent weeks, participants share their coaching successes and challenges through group “coaching circle” calls and receive in-the-moment coaching by their peers and a master coach.

Creating a leadership pipeline is top of mind for many organizations. Tap your own leaders to develop emerging and future leaders. The result is a just-in-time workforce capable of mobilizing quickly, moving into key roles, taking on increased responsibility and increasing the organization’s competitiveness.


Looking to gain deeper insight into your own talent management strategy? Take Lee Hecht Harrison’s free talent mobility diagnostic to identify whether you are consistently and proactively implementing key talent mobility behaviors and where the gaps in your strategy may be.

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