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Why You Should Support Leadership Development With Manager-Coaches

05/30/2019 10:36 AM | Anonymous


Photo by Julian Howard on Unsplash


Learning and development initiatives have a huge opportunity to increase participant application and retention of content by better leveraging one key relationship. How is that possible, you might ask?

It all starts with leveraging the participant’s manager in the development process as a manager-coach.

Leadership development participants need a support system up, down, and around them to make development really stick – and the manager is a key component of this network.

Coaching plays an important role in supplementing leadership development. It can help:

  • build faster, sustained outcomes
  • support learning retention and behavior change
  • provide real-time feedback on application
  • focus attention on development plans
  • offer support on challenges
  • drive accountability
  • connect the dots to the organizational big picture

A coach approach to managing in the workplace prepares people to make the most of their skills and aptitudes, recognize the opportunities that best suit their talents, and move from motivation to action. Getting managers to incorporate coaching into their traditional management skills helps leadership development participants by encouraging personal growth and development between key learning opportunities.



Participants’ managers don’t always understand their role or know how they can support the development process. But we can change that by formally incorporating touchpoints for participants and managers to have coaching conversations about the leadership development program and the participant’s takeaways.

Here are some key ways you can engage a leadership development participant’s manager as a coach:

  • Prior to the design of any training/development, get feedback from the participants’ managers to find out what the needs are and them what success looks like for their employee’s participation in the training.
  • Clearly communicate the purpose of the program and the targeted leadership competencies that managers can watch for participants to demonstrate.
  • Educate managers on how they can coach direct reports to support the development during the program.
  • Provide clear expectations on their role in following up with employees before, during, and after training and in giving employees an opportunity to use the new leadership skills.
  • Provide a participant/manager conversation guide to structure conversations during a training/development initiative and help to ensure that managers are connecting with their direct reports that are participating.
  • Have managers work with employees on individual development plans (IDPs) or action plans that accompany leadership development to make sure they apply to the participant’s role and the leadership program objectives.


To support a recent leadership development program for emerging leaders, we provided The Coaching Clinic™ to the participants’ direct managers, prior to the program start. In addition to the skills, knowledge, and practice the managers received from the Clinic’s structure, they also received tools and other resources to help them best support their participant. 

We included a manager-participant communication guide, an overview of the content the participant would be exposed to, and the questions the manager could ask to ensure understanding and application. Having this level of knowledge positioned those managers with clarity around their role and how they could best support their participant. Subsequently, the managers not only saw increased involvement and success with their participant, but they also gained valuable coaching skills!


The manager is such a critical component of the participant support system that enables them to apply learning to their day-to-day job. Providing managers with coaching skills to support participants is a key step to maximizing the impact of leadership development and reaping the rewards that coaching can add to leadership development.

Linda Dausend CPLP, is a senior consultant at FlashPoint. Linda collaborates with clients to unlock the power of great leaders within their organizations.


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