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Every Leader a Coach Leader of Leaders Leadership Coaching Team Development

Leadership Interview: Susan Hunter my Leadership Transition Coaching Journey

A leadership transition may at first seem like an onerous prospect. Especially if it involves a complete change of role, a relocation – or both. However in reality, with the right planning and coaching support, it can turn into an extremely rewarding and satisfying experience.

Over recent years the majority of my one-to-one work has been coaching for leadership transition. In 2018/19 I had the privilege of working with Susan Hunter. I was supporting her in her transition from Senior Global Director Operational Excellence to Managing Director at APM Terminals Bahrain. From a senior job at the centre of the business to a key P&L leadership role in the Khalifa Bin Salman Port in Bahrain. Quite a transformation in many ways. Most of our coaching sessions were conduction via Skype. The exception being an initial face-to-face session in London and my visit to Bahrain to meet Susan’s senior leadership team.

In this article I ask Susan to share her leadership transition coaching experience. I am most grateful to Susan for the taking the time in her busy schedule to answer my interview questions.

This is the third article in the series. Last year I wrote similar articles about Peter Drake’s and James Wroe’s leadership transition experiences, and the role that coaching played. In his article Active Leadership Onboarding James shared the six key factors that ensure a new colleague’s successful leadership transition.

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Every Leader a Coach Leader of Leaders Leadership Coaching Team Development

Leadership Interview: Peter Drake my Leadership Transition Coaching Journey

A leadership transition may at first seem an onerous prospect; however in reality, with the right planning and coaching support, it will turn into an extremely rewarding and satisfying experience.

Over recent years the majority of my one-to-one work has been coaching for leadership transition. In 2019 I had the privilege of working with Peter Drake. I was supporting him in his transition from General Manager to a Director role at A.P. Moller – Maersk North Europe Liner Operations Centre in Rotterdam. He certainly approached this with commitment and a great deal of enthusiasm. Most of our coaching sessions were conduction via Skype. The exception being one face-to-face session in August.

In this article I ask Peter to share his leadership transition experience and the role that coaching played. I am most grateful to Peter for the thoughtfulness and depth of his replies to my interview questions.

This is the second article in the series. Earlier this year I wrote a similar article about James Wroe’s leadership transition experience, and the role that coaching played. In his article Active Leadership Onboarding James shared the six key factors that ensure a new colleague’s successful leadership transition.

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Leadership Coaching

Active Leadership Onboarding

Selecting and hiring a new team member frequently brings me a sense of completion and excitement at having a new colleague to work with. It is the end of a long search having found someone who will make our team better, who will improve our organisation and take us to new places. Now they will need your help and support with their leadership transition.

At the same time, it is also the very start of a long process of adjustment. One that from personal experience tends to be neglected and left to the new joiner to figure out. Not only is the new team member going through a transition to a new role with much to learn, so are their peers who are adapting to a new colleague. If they are a leader, their direct reports all now have a new manager to understand. New vendors or customers to work with. There may be country changes to manage on an international move, also leading to changes at home for any family. Even within the same company, office cultures can differ significantly. Leaving a new employee to work this out alone – whether new to the company or an internal mover – leaves far too much to chance.

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Leadership Coaching

Leadership Interview: James Wroe my Leadership Transition Coaching Journey

A leadership transition may initially seem a complex and scary prospect; but in reality, with the right planning and coaching support, it can turn into an extremely rewarding and satisfying experience.

You knew you had to say ‘yes’ to the promotion you were offered. You realise there are loads of variables and interconnectivities to be dealt with. Top of your list will probably be assessing and understanding the people, performance and leadership issues. Your aim is to have maximum impact in your new role in the shortest possible time. Quick wins is a recurring theme for a leadership transition. You need to understand the new culture, at the same time remain objectively detached from how things have always been done. You will have a whole new set of stakeholders to get to know. Who are they? What are their issues and expectations? Most notable of course is your new boss. The hiring manager. They have a personal stake in your leadership transition.

You may be moving to a new geographic location and away from your normal network of contacts and support. You may be taking responsibility for functional areas you have no previous experienced of yourself. For example, finance, commercial, HR, etc.

During your transition you will be moving along the leadership pipeline. For example, from leader of leaders to functional leader or from functional leader to business leader. With this comes the need to change how you see your role as a leader (Work Values). To reassess how you allocate your discretionary time to new and different leadership tasks (Time Application). This will mean stopping doing some of the leadership tasks that brought you success and made you a hero in your last job. More of the same is not always what is needed. You will find yourself delegating leadership tasks that may have been core to your previous role. And there will be new leader competencies for you to adopt and deploy (Skills). Welcome to the wonderful world of leadership transition.

Over recent years the majority of my one-to-one work has been coaching for leadership transition. For the last half of 2018 I had the privilege of working with James Wroe. I was supporting him in his transition from Head of Marine Operations North Europe in Rotterdam to Head of Liner Operations Asia Pacific in Singapore. A functional leader to a business leader role transition.

In this article I ask James to share his leadership transition experience and the role that coaching played. James has offered to write an article later in the year about his experience coaching new direct reports as they complete their leadership transitions.