With all the uncertainty around the economic direction of the UK, the qualities of great leadership have never been more valued. It seems (certainly as far as political parties are concerned), that it’s a quality currently in short supply.

Recently, I watched individuals jockey for positions within our political parties. As an organisation this might prompt you to consider who is waiting in the wings to lead your future – and how are they being developed to best equip them for the challenges ahead?

The first question is can you teach leadership? As coaches, we would say ‘a bit’. Leadership courses can be invaluable for attendees to open up their eyes to what may be required. This can include shifting their focus from tactical to strategic issues, broadening their understanding of the wider context in which the organisation operates and identifying the importance of communicating with stakeholders to get things done. However, a training situation can’t reproduce the reality of facing a leadership challenge: a big decision with far reaching consequences; a team in crisis; or choosing the right area of focus in an avalanche of tasks.

You learn leadership by doing it. By setting a direction. By mobilising and motivating others to follow. By navigating the twists and turns of a project. By facing the unexpected and learning as you go. Therefore, the winning organisations of the future will be giving their future leaders the opportunity to lead, learn and develop now. Consider who in your organisation:


  • Has great people skills but hasn’t yet had to mobilise others who are less able, less motivated or less experienced?
  • Is fizzing with ideas but hasn’t had to implement a big idea through to completion?
  • Delivers again and again operationally but couldn’t tell you what the 5 year plan is?
  • Shows great potential but is divisive – you either love them or hate them


Reacting to Brexit will require a myriad of skills and talent. Senior teams will be tempted to hunker down and wait until they have a plan before involving others. Instead, this is the perfect opportunity to give your leaders-in-waiting a seat at the table. This could include creating a junior leadership team to provide ideas and challenge the senior board – or opening up your decision making to wannabe leaders so they see first-hand what the issues are. Offer leadership shadowing. Give major projects to those leaders waiting in the wings to show your faith in their talent. Allow them to make their mistakes now and learn.

Coaching can play a key role in accelerating the development of your budding leaders. It creates an opportunity to reflect and learn quicker. It supports an in-depth self-awareness of strengths to build on and areas to strengthen. It allows budding leaders to engage with the real issues facing your organisation and deliver back to you their best ideas and their best self to implement them. Be brave. Don’t wait for your wannabe leaders to find you. Seek them out, nurture them and reap the rewards. We would love to help.