Using Coaching to Develop First-time Leaders


Millennials will soon be the majority demographic in the workforce and are increasingly moving into leadership roles. Recent research from the International Coach Federation (ICF) and the Human Capital Institute (HCI), Building a Coaching Culture with Millennial Leaders, found that many individual contributors become first-time people managers between the ages of 31 and 35. As more Millennials enter management positions, they are requesting that current and potential employers invest in their leadership development to prepare them for current and future roles. A great way to do so is through coaching.

Becoming a leader is an exciting opportunity, but it can also be overwhelming. That’s why organizations like EY (formerly Ernst & Young), 2017 ICF International Prism Award Honorable Mention recipient, provide access to coaching. In a recent survey of leaders who received transition coaching at EY, the following engagement indicators were a direct result of coaching: 96 percent understood what drives them, 89 percent were clearer about their role and responsibilities, 80 percent more confidently navigated their environment, 83 percent identified and built the relationships that matter to their success, 80 percent found their footing faster, and 88 percent felt stronger as a leader.

In addition to working with a professional coach practitioner for improved work performance and goal attainment, first-time people managers should also have access to coach-specific training. Using coaching skills with their teams will not only impact the leader’s performance, but it will also improve the performance of both the team overall and each team member.

More importantly, employees want a truly coaching culture within the workplace with more coach-like management styles. When respondents to the ICF/HCI study were asked to list three words they’d use to describe the most effective management style at their organizations, “coaching,” “supportive” and “collaborative” were listed most often. They also selected “coaching and developing others” as the top-rated competency for first-time people managers. A coach approach is less directive, supports more employee empowerment, and places a stronger focus on growth and change.

Access to coaching and coach training is already a developmental opportunity for many executives. Why not expand this access to first-time people managers? After all, as the workforce ages, they will be assuming those executive roles in the future. Equipping leaders with the tools for a more coach-like leadership style early on will no doubt have a positive, long-term impact on your organization.


Join @shrmnextchat and Colmon Elridge at 3pm ET on October 18 for a #Nextchat on Coaching. 




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I am considered a millennial and I agree with this post. However, I think the issue is that many others do not understand this perspective. As a young professional, I am anxious to learn everything that I can so that I can make a huge impact in the workplace. Often, I find myself in positions where management lack the skills or desire to coach and be supportive. I however do not see this negatively as many would. I use my experiences to mold me into the leader that I once wanted as a subordinate. My goal is to identify the disconnect between millennials and older parties, and bridge the gap which will in turn benefit everyone in the workplace.

Very interesting post, Colmon. One main challenge is, how do you provide coaching to all new managers, as well as strategically to leaders who advance, have growth opportunities, etc. Coaching has traditionally been expensive and hard to manage and scale. Do you think the lack of broad-based coaching in most companies is because they do not believe it's worth it (lack of value) or because it's just too hard to implement? New technology solutions will certainly reduce the cost/implementation burden, but it doesn't help if companies believe their traditional workshop and online leadership programs are working well.
Todd Murtha,

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