Career and talent development – how does coaching help?

In the second episode of our first season of the The Coaching Question podcast we talked about how coaching can help career and talent development. We looked at a model called the Leadership Pipeline and discussed how it might be useful in coaching. If you haven’t come across this model before, it’s shared in this book and essentially helps HR leaders understand how they can grow leaders from inside the business.

One of the reasons Gregor and I wanted to talk about the leadership pipeline is because it details all the major transitions people make in terms of management throughout their career. Whether you are a leader, an HR professional or someone interested in your own development, taking the time to reflect on the shifts required when stepping up into a role with increased responsibilities can be transformative.

When a client comes to coaching because they are feeling overwhelmed or struggling in their new role, more often than not, the challenge they are facing is learning to let go of their old work identity and values and embracing the new. A key question we might ask a client going through any transition is “What is it that you need to let go of?”

Our work identity reflects what we’re known for and we become accustomed to receiving recognition and praise for this. For example, if I have a reputation for being the person who is great at solving problems, I become the go-to person for this and as a result, being a problem solver forms a large part of my work identity.

However, as I progress up through the organisation and the leadership pipeline, I will be expected to stop being an individual contributor as I start to assume responsibility for other people, other leaders and/or other functions. Consequently, I need to learn to let go of being the problem solver because that identity no longer serves me in my new role. I need to learn to delegate and develop new habits and behaviours as a leader and manager.

Making this transition successfully is not just about going on a management training course or acquiring new skills. It is a personal journey of discovery, of exploring changes in values and identity and learning how to adapt to the demands of the role and organisation.

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