Coaching Helps Leaders Transition into New Roles

The first 100 days are crucial for those moving into new leadership roles. But why is this period so important? Leaders in new roles are more likely to make errors such as acting too quickly without the necessary information and failing to build relationships and credibility. To ensure accelerated assimilation and effectiveness in new roles, organizations can help their new leaders experience successful role transitions.


Levin (2010) recently proposed a five step structured intervention that combines executive coaching and team development. Its purpose is to address two tasks that are critical to success in new leadership roles: information seeking about the context and challenges of the new role, and relationship building with the new team of direct reports and peers.

Step 1 – Launch

A contracting process between a qualified coach (e.g., the author recommends a consulting psychologist), the new leader, and key stakeholders outlining substantive task-related and socio-emotional issues associated with the transition into the new role.

Step 2 – Leader Preparation and Team Interviews

A parallel process of data collection through individual interviews with direct reports and peers, as well as ongoing analysis of responses (conducted by the consulting psychologist).

Step 3 – New Leader Feedback Meeting

A meeting similar to a general coaching session in which the new leader and the consulting psychologist review the interview summary report. Together, they explore the new leader’s reactions to the interview themes and prepare for the upcoming team session.

Step 4 – Team Feedback and Working Session

A longer, preferably offsite meeting, similar in format to a new team start up session. Working through a structured agenda of key topics, the new leader and the group share information about themselves, learn more about their expectations, needs, and backgrounds, and develop a set of shared priorities and an action plan to accomplish them.

Step 5 – Follow Up

A meeting between the new leader and the consulting psychologist to assess learning, and to discuss information that will be shared with a new boss regarding priorities and a group action plan. About one month after the offsite session, another meeting with the new leader can be held to assess advances in the mutual assimilation and relationship building processes. This is followed by a meeting with the full team to review progress and make adjustments to the action plan.


The author’s proposed intervention involves key elements for the successful role-related transitions of new leaders. For coaches and mentors, this intervention provides a sample approach, design considerations, and techniques to address common challenges confronted by new leaders in the early days of a new role.  


Levin, I. M. (2010). New leader assimilation process: Accelerating new role-related transitions. Consulting Psychology Journal: Research and Practice, 62(1), 56-72.