The Leader-as-Coach Transformation: What it Means for Recent Grads Launching Careers in 2020

One of the underrated changes happening in the global economy right now relates to leadership. While past leaders were often looked to as generals or sages—issuing commands, ruling with an iron fist, knowing every aspect of their market—today’s leaders have taken on a different archetype: the coach

The flattening of company hierarchies and the increased need for agility and innovation has meant giving employees more freedom. Rather than directing worker bees or fine-tuning cogs in a machine, today’s leaders have to figure out how to motivate the best performance from each employee while still keeping the team pulling in the same direction. 

In some ways, this should be a welcome change. Recent grads and newer entrants to the job market are vocal in their desire to have more purpose and autonomy in their work. However, this freedom comes with new expectations, and embracing these responsibilities can mean the difference between struggling and thriving in the modern workforce. 

Working at a company that employs the Leader-as-Coach philosophy can come with attractive upsides: more interesting and engaging projects, greater opportunities for advancement, and more control over how you spend your days. In order to thrive, though, employees have to cultivate several habits that aren’t always taught in school: 

  • Have an agenda: Before any meeting with your manager, think about what you want or need to do your best work, and practice to make sure you can articulate these things clearly. 
  • If you don’t want to be told what to do, then don’t wait to be told what to do: Be proactive. Come up with your own projects, your own questions, your own solutions to ongoing problems. 
  • Embrace ambiguity: Your supervisor won’t always provide a highly detailed outline of their expectations—often because in today’s ever-changing landscape, such data pinpoints aren’t yet known. It’s your job to identify information gaps and strategize ways to fill in the blanks. 

Changes to the world of work require employees to embrace new ways of approaching their jobs, and taking more ownership of their career trajectory. To learn more about which habits are best suited to work in the 21st century economy, read our article The 6 Real-time Learning Habits Essential for Today’s Workforce.