3 articles

Scale Up

Leadership People Mindset

4 min read

Set Yourself Up for Scale-up Growth through Coaching

30 second summary:

Coaching unlocks AND empowers potential – in individuals and teams – to support execution of strategy, to turbo-charge organisations for growth. Far from being “remedial”, a “solution for underperformance”, coaching is about “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential … [that] unlocks previously untapped sources of imagination, productivity and leadership.” In short – coaching is about developing growth mindsets and fuelling sustainable growth.

Building the leadership and management capacity within their senior teams has always been a focus of high-performing scale-up CEOs.

In recent months, developing individuals and teams, especially the senior team, has been named by scale-up leaders as the top factor to support business growth as we emerge from the pandemic. Effective mentoring and coaching are recognised as essential components of such individual and team development.

So let’s focus on coaching for scale-up growth.

How does coaching support scale-up growth?

Coaching adds value in an individual (1:1s) and team context. Coaching supports individuals at every stage of the leadership pipeline – from leading self, to leading others and leaders of others, to leading a function or business or enterprise - to be the best they can be for themselves, their team and their organisation.

Why coaching?

Still you might ask: “Why coaching?” and “How exactly does coaching support business growth?” Some clear and often-encountered reasons why individuals and teams seek coaching answer both questions - for coaching serves to

  1. enhance self-awareness and awareness of others – to bring out their best.
  2. increase ability and accountability for delivering on promises, projects and results.
  3. clarify thinking when weighing up significant opportunities and challenges.
  4. identify options when courageous decisions are required.
  5. build more resilient and robust high-performance teams.
  6. accelerate successful transitions (from one layer of leadership to another, one organisation or part of a business or function or country to another).
  7. develop cross-cultural effectiveness, flexibility, versatility.
  8. enable greater engagement across a broad spectrum of diverse stakeholders.

Some reasons are clearly more “business” related – “hard” in terms of topic; other reasons more “people” orientated – “soft”, but ever so hard to address. Yet we know that business growth is about attention to tasks AND attention to people. Both are absolutely important.

Examples of coaching situations:

To be more concrete, consider how coaching unlocks greater performance and growth in five clusters of individual-clients:

Lion Kings (Young Simba) – Some come to coaching because they think they have come to management / leadership by being in the right place at the right time. They “suffer” from “imposter syndrome”. Early coaching conversations unearth thoughts like: “I’ve hit my ceiling – am at the top of what I can do well – only got this role because of experience/connections/chance not because of innate ability.” Unblocking that limiting thinking unlocks potential for growth – adding greatly to the wellbeing of the individual being coached and those around them.

Lion-Kings’ Uncles (Scar) – Others come to coaching with narcissistic traits – often scarred from life-experiences. They “look” entitled, attention seeking, self-serving, insensitive to and undermining of others, like they’re holding grudges, toxic. Unveiling this to them leads to self-awareness that, when combined with a true desire to develop, enables these individuals to unlock their potential by adopting more productive ways of working and engaging with others. After all, few managers / leaders truly want to fail and narcissists seldomly have enduring success.

The Meerkats and Warthogs (Timon and Pumbaa) – Many come to coaching challenged by crucial conversations that they need to have with themselves and with others. They see, they know, that there is potential to be grasped, challenges to be overcome – but can’t bring themselves to have the tough conversations essential to take the business to that next level. The coaching role is to explore the “why”, “what” and “how” of those conversations, to unpack what’s getting in the way, to equip for and hold to account for having those conversations.

Young Lionesses (Nala)– Surprisingly often, complete and genuine articles come through for coaching. They know the business, have the relevant experience to deliver, the humility to seek support when necessary and the empathy and sensitivity to lead others to want to engage and fulfil their part. Coaching for these is often a case of helping them find their confidence, organise their thinking and priorities, set out a series of actionable first steps.

Finished Articles (Mufasa) – Occasionally complete leaders come to coaching to refine their thinking around their legacy and their hand-over to the next generation. Research shows that with many family firms: the first generation creates it, the second grows it, the third destroys it. Even in established enterprises, this can be true. The aim of coaching for great leaders is to help them think clearly about how best to pass the living culture and complex system that is “their business” to the next generation of leaders, how to set those next leaders up for success. And that is not a last-minute process – in coaching or in practice!

Want to explore how coaching can unlock AND empower individuals and teams to fuel sustainable growth in your business? Give us a call



Cora Lynn Heimer Rathbone



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