Structuring Coaching to Make Experiential Learning Successful in Global Leadership Development

In last month’s blog, we discussed the importance of providing skilled coaching during experiential learning activities to produce desired developmental results.  It is essentially an insurance policy for making experiential learning successful.  Since these activities typically involve a high degree of personal and organizational investment of time and resources, their design is critical for return on investment.  So let’s examine how to structure coaching throughout these experiences.

Coaching should begin prior to the developmental experience to help leaders understand the developmental objectives of the experience.  Especially in global leadership development, where experiential learning can introduce people to new and complex situations, they need time to mentally and emotionally prepare.  Individuals should discuss their motivations and confidence level for interacting with diverse team members in a new environment.  This discussion will surface issues that need to be addressed prior to the meeting and will help pinpoint any pre-learning that needs to happen beforehand.   They should receive training and coaching on how to understand and navigate cultural, political, regulatory or organizational differences that may arise.  This preparation should also include coaching on how to frame the experience.  For instance, when coaching an employee prior to a global team meeting, there should be a discussion about how that meeting is not just about accomplishing tasks.  While the tasks are important, it is unlikely they will be achieved without first focusing building relationships with the global team members.  This will require cross-cultural leadership skills, namely using Global Mindset capabilities to see organizational issues and challenges from the points-of-view of culturally diverse team members and to integrate diverse viewpoints to reach agreements.  

Periodic coaching during the experience allows leaders to press the ‘pause button’ on their development.  With some expert guidance and good coaching questions, they then can reflect on the objectives of the development and discuss successes and challenges.  This discussion is vital to help participants course-correct when necessary and to keep their eyes on the objectives.  While it may be challenging to find the time and resources to schedule periodic coaching, consider the consequences of not doing so.  Leaders who are not focused on the development objectives or are frustrated by their experiences, aren’t necessarily learning.  Without some support along the way, any investment in the development opportunity is potentially lost.  Periodic coaching throughout developmental experiences is an insurance plan for keeping development on track.

Finally, development experiences should be debriefed after they occur.  Our expert international executive coaching partners suggest giving leaders some questions to reflect on in the short term following the experience.  Then a coach should spend some time with the leaders to discuss their reactions.  The continued motivations and self-assurance of the leaders should be discussed and at least informally assessed to determine additional follow-up coaching and development activities.  Combining coaching with development experiences produces a powerful formula for developing deep Global Psychological Capital.  For more on our research about how to develop Global Mindset, visit

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