Going Through Changes: Transition Coaching for Leaders

By Sara Shondrick, PhD, ACC

We work with a lot of leaders who are navigating through significant changes. Whether it’s brought on by a new position, company, strategic direction, merger/acquisition, investor, reorganization, or retirement, these changes can not only disrupt teams, stress employees, challenge existing norms, and shift culture in seemingly unpredictable ways – they often cause leaders to second-guess their whole identity at a critical moment.

  • Who am I to lead this team?
  • How can I leave behind my beloved former team?
  • Oh no - I’ve fooled everyone, even myself!
  • Ack! I’ve made a huge mistake!
  • How do I ask for help when I’ve prided myself on my independence for so long?

The turbulence that comes with transitions can leave even the most experienced executive feeling disoriented, anxious, and uncertain – which survey data backs up.

When writing The First 90 Days, author and leadership expert Michael Watkins surveyed 1300+ senior HR leaders, and almost 90% agreed that “transitions into new roles are the most challenging times in the professional lives of leaders.” Similarly, nearly 75% agreed that “success or failure during the first few months is a strong predictor of overall success or failure in the job.”

Clearly, periods of transition are moments where leaders are operating under a microscope while being quite vulnerable due to the lack of established relationships and understanding of their new roles.

How leadership transition coaching can help

For leaders facing these ups and downs, transition coaching provides a nonjudgmental, confidential, and empowering space where they can voice their vulnerabilities, gain greater clarity over the root causes getting in their way, see things from a new perspective, and develop practices and reflective habits that help them find their way to smoother waters.

The result? They can brush off the self-doubt, reconnect with their purpose, and create an impact more quickly and effectively.

If you think about leadership as a compass, meeting with a coach will help you move toward true north. I’m at my best when I’m talking about leadership all the time – when it’s at the forefront of my mind.

VP, Operations current Mix client

Common ways leadership coaching supports leaders in transition include:

  • Preparing for the transition before it happens
  • Assimilating the new leader into the team
  • Boosting confidence, resilience, and emotional intelligence
  • Negotiating realistic expectations
  • Building alignment across stakeholders
  • Accelerating learning and balancing learning with acting
  • Developing an effective strategy
  • Navigating complexity using systems thinking
  • Developing credibility & strong relationships
  • Having challenging conversations
  • Enhancing decision-making and influence
  • Prioritizing well-being and work-life integration
  • Letting go of their old identity & embracing their new identity
  • Securing early wins & prioritizing long-term plays
  • Building and/or sustaining a high-performing team
  • Navigating politics

I got this shot of inspiration and awakening. I feel like I’ve been in this haze of confusion, regret, and uncertainty that’s now gone.

VP, Clinical Development current Mix client

The Mix advantage: helping leaders lead

Mix Talent’s transition coaching is all about creating lasting change rather than fashioning temporary solutions. We use evidence-based practices from positive psychology, organizational behavior, neuroscience, and related fields to help leaders focus and accelerate their impact.

Our integrative, whole-person approach helps clients get to know themselves more clearly. It helps clients make sense of their experiences through an interconnected lens that examines their identities, feelings, beliefs, greater purpose, values, and physical being within the broader systems they navigate. Lastly, it assumes clients are whole, knowledgeable, and resourceful and it teaches them how to find their own answers.

Our clients meet with us during recurring sessions to work through whatever is currently challenging them most – and they have access to us between sessions for unexpected plot twists. Many also find it helpful to complete our evidence-based leadership assessment, which is tailored to their specific situation and designed to help them boost their self-awareness, recognize the strengths they might be able to leverage in new ways, and consider how they can be intentional about not reenacting old habits. Others find it helpful to have our coaches facilitate a New Leader Assimilation session with their new team to help them get to know each other and the landscape more quickly.

Let's Connect

If you’re curious to learn more about transition coaching, send me a message to learn more!

Sara Shondrick, PhD, ACC

Director, Leadership Coaching

As the founder and head of Mix’s coaching practice, Sara’s mission is to help leaders get unstuck and lead with greater passion, purpose, and confidence so they can create a better world. She is a leadership coach and consultant with 15+ years of experience partnering with senior leaders from startups to the Fortune 100.

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