Successful executive coaches draw upon evidence-based theories to achieve tangible results for their clients. One helpful framework recognizes how leaders evolve according to predictable stages. Consider the case of a newly promoted leader who nearly derailed and how leadership stage theory informed our coaching approach.
Susan is a newly promoted healthcare leader to her role in revenue reporting with four staff members. As a new manager, she felt overwhelmed trying to learn all she needed to know about her role, manage her team, and respond to her boss's demands. In her role only a couple of months, Susan damaged many key relationships because of her overly assertive communication style. Her manager, the CFO, voiced his desire for her to delegate more downward to join his strategic planning meetings with the CEO. Susan started to doubt the wisdom of taking the promotion and feels exhausted as she works most weekends trying to learn more about the technical aspects of her direct reports roles.
Numerous theories explain the process of how one becomes an effective change leader. Bill Joiner and Stephen Josephs developed an agility framework that explores leader evolution based on developmental stages. This type of model provides a valuable roadmap for executive coaches support the growth of their clients based on predictable stages of development. As leaders evolve through these stages, they are better able to lead increasingly complex change initiatives successfully.
The five stages include expert, achiever, catalyst, co-creator, and synergist.
Through initial conversations with Susan it became apparent she was functioning at the expert stage of leader development. Susan experienced limits to her ability to lead change projects - mostly incremental process improvements. These limitations stem from her limited ability to think strategically, over-reliance on her capabilities versus leveraging others' talents, and limited self-awareness.
As her executive coach, I began with a 360-degree assessment to help Susan understand how others perceived her. We then created a development plan and met with her manager to align on coaching's successful outcomes. Our goal was to help Susan begin advancing toward the next stage of development: Synergist.
My approach to working with Susan included:
After working with Susan for six months, she achieved some notable improvements:
Stage theory is a valuable way for executive coaches to support leader growth by defining critical developmental milestones on the journey to the top. These frameworks can be a big difference in helping new managers accelerate their growth and impact as highly effective leaders.
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Dr. Kevin Nourse has more than 25 years of experience developing transformational change leaders in healthcare and other sectors. He is the founder of Nourse Leadership Strategies, a coaching and leadership development firm based in Southern California. For more information, contact Kevin at 310.715.8315 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
(c) 2021 Kevin Nourse