ONE of the toughest challenges faced by top management is identifying and developing new leaders, which is critical for the long-term success of the organisation.

A company’s leadership pipeline is expected to deliver its “next generation” of ready-now leaders. Yet, only 3 per cent of companies in a survey reported satisfaction with their leadership pipeline — the quality and readiness of leadership talent was not adequate.  

Growing evidence suggests that what is now commonly known as emotional intelligence plays a key role in determining leadership success in the workplace.

Longitudinal research, conducted by the Centre for Executive Education (CEE Global), has uncovered links between specific elements of emotional intelligence and leadership styles as well as specific behaviours associated with leadership effectiveness and ineffectiveness.

The study using BarOn EQ-i® (Emotional Quotient Inventory), an assessment of emotional intelligence, found that, higher levels of certain emotional intelligence components appear to be connected to better performance in leadership roles. The study also identified potential problem areas that could contribute to executive derailment.

Research by CEE reveals the three main areas where role-to-role transitions derail:


•   Alignment with strategic direction: Individual expectations of the leader as well as the functions are not aligned with organisational goals and strategic direction; more importantly, there is no dialogue to create alignment.


•   Expanding leadership competence:  The  organisation lacks clarity on requirements, the emotional intelligence competencies and leadership capabilities best suited for the role. In building their own leadership expertise, new leaders must learn to build an effective leadership team, manage the performance of others and effectively delegate and develop others (corporate or managerial coaching skills).


•   Expanding organisational competence: Leaders have to understand the business processes that create economic value for the organisation. Higher levels of leadership have to understand when and how to redesign these processes to accomplish the strategy as well as understand the capabilities needed to operate these processes.


In times of transition, there is a very short window in which a leader has to learn about the business, the function or divisions, his team and employee capabilities. 

This learning is more complicated when the leader encounters a geographical or organisational culture with which he is not familiar.


Required skills

Leaders must identify the right goals, develop a supporting strategy, align the architecture of the organisation, and figure out what projects to pursue to secure early wins.

Leaders at all levels of the organisation must demonstrate a high degree of emotional intelligence in their leadership role. Emotionally intelligent leaders create an environment of positive morale and higher productivity and this results in sustainable employee engagement.

The critical transitional skills for leaders in transition include emotional intelligence competencies in effective relationship management, cross-cultural communication, effective negotiation and conflict management.

The reality for leaders in transition is that relationships are great sources of leverage. By building credibility with influential players, you are better able to gain agreement on goals, and commitment to achieving those goals.

In the leader’s new situation, relationship management skills are critical as he or she is not the only one going through a transition. To varying degrees, many different people, both inside and outside the leader’s direct line of command, are affected by the way he or she handles their new role.


Transition coaching

But what if there was a proven process to support new leaders in their role while significantly increasing return on investment and ensuring a positive economic impact for the organisation?

One such process is transition coaching — an integrated and systematic process, which engages new leaders into the company’s corporate strategy and culture to accelerate productivity.

Transition coaching encompasses the goals of executive coaching, which focuses on developing a top executive’s full potential by coaching them to think and act beyond existing limits and paradigms. But is also focuses on a specific niche — the newly appointed leader.

Leadership transitions are among the most challenging and difficult situations executives face. The goal of transition coaching is to reduce the time it takes for new leaders to make a net contribution to the organisation and establish a framework for ongoing success.

A smooth “role-to-role” transition is critical to company performance. The company depends on leaders to execute and meet objectives and has bet that internal candidates are better value at less risk.

Many newly placed executives fail within their first two years in the position for reasons ranging from their inability to adjust to a new role and develop strong relationships to a lack of understanding of the business imperatives.

An unsuccessful transition can negatively impact an organisation through poor financial results, decreased employee morale and costly turnovers. So rather than risk this sink or swim gamble, organisations can improve the process with transition coaching.



Article by Prof Sattar Bawany, the CEO of the Centre for Executive Education (CEE Global), which offers executive development solutions including executive coaching and leadership development programmes. For more information, e-mail or visit