A New Leadership Development Model for a New World

Change is part and parcel of life in global markets — no business is immune. To thrive within a disruptive and turbulent environment, companies need leaders who put people over profits; focus on purpose over process; and build trust, care, and empathy. Effective, dynamic leadership is needed at all levels within an organization, but relying on traditional leadership development models simply won’t work. A new model is needed — one that takes a holistic approach to leadership development by combining multiple learning strategies.

A holistic approach to leadership development

As with nearly everything, even the definition of a leader has changed. As organizations become flatter and more dynamic, employees at every level and function may find themselves in a leadership role. Therefore, leadership today is a capability that almost everyone in the organization needs. 

Traditional leadership development models that assume leadership is static and practiced only from the top down no longer apply. Companies must shift from step-by-step leadership development models to a continual and on-going process that empowers and supports leaders within the context of their organization. In their joint report with Sounding Board, “Coaching for Success: A New Wave of Offerings for a New Breed of Leaders,” The Josh Bersin Company outlines a holistic approach to leadership development:

Envision: What does “good leadership” mean to your organization? Each company is unique, with its own distinct vision, mission, values, and culture. Placing leadership into a specific organizational context will help define what your leadership development program should include.

Education: Organizations need formal learning and development programs to ensure leaders are aligned in business-specific processes such as setting goals and people-development.

Experience: People learn by doing. Companies must offer leaders opportunities to test and practice their leadership capabilities through experiences.

Exposure: The best lessons in leadership come from observing, talking with, and getting feedback from others. Leaders need access to coaches and mentors and exposure to outside companies and executives.

Evaluation: Leaders need to be able to assess their development and identify blind spots. Coaches and mentors can help leaders to evaluate their effectiveness as a leader and encourage real time application and practice.

Empower: Organizations can empower leaders by providing tools and technologies that make giving and receiving feedback easier, while also tracking team productivity and capacity.

A new model for leadership development at all levels

Coaching is one of the most successful ways to develop effective leadership, but due to the costs and complexities associated with traditional coaching models, most companies only assign coaches to senior executives. Depriving lower level leaders of coaching opportunities leaves the bulk of the organization rudderless. Fortunately, companies like Sounding Board now offer affordable, technology-enabled solutions to scale leadership coaching, making it more accessible to leaders at all levels.

Accessibility is just one component of the new leadership development model organizations need to create dynamic leadership. Leaders need opportunities for collaborative learning, as well as personalized one-on-one coaching. Consider integrating group coaching into a leadership development program provides opportunities for peer-to-peer interaction, exposure to executives, and experiences that help cement learnings through practice. 

What’s next?

Companies need to focus on how best to provide continuous learning to support and cement development of capabilities necessary for effective leadership. By implementing the right mix of one-on-one coaching, group coaching, live training, external mentoring, and other high-value experiences, companies can democratize leadership development across all levels of the organization — enabling and empowering leaders to navigate the organization more effectively through periods of turbulent change.

Our latest report, “Coaching for Success: A New Wave of Offerings for a New Breed of Leaders,” produced in partnership with The Josh Bersin Company, explores:

  • The six E’s of a holistic approach to leadership development
  • Why cohort-based coaching is the central piece to the new learning development model
  • How companies like Conagra and Intel adopted the new model and the success they’ve found


Download the report now to learn more.

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Niall MacGearailt

SVP of Finance
Niall MacGearailt leads Sounding Board’s finance division as the SVP of Finance and Operations. Niall earned a solid track record of improving P&L and operational expense management for leading companies such as Whirlpool, Logitech, Avaya and most recently Soraa, where he prepared the business for acquisition by leading hi-tech lighting company, Ecosense. In his role, he is responsible for building and leading the finance & relevant operations functions for the company.

Ron Buell

VP of Engineering
Ron Buell is the VP of Engineering at Sounding Board and an accomplished software professional with extensive experience in leadership, software engineering, project management, and product management. Ron has led the development of highly scalable systems and applications across a variety of technologies for companies including OpenFeint (acquired by GREE), Rdio (acquired by Pandora), Lyris Technologies, and Lotus/IBM Software Group. In his role at Sounding Board, Buell is responsible for all engineering efforts in developing, deploying, and maintaining the enterprise software platform and team for the company.

Tommy Perkins


Tommy is at his best helping clients think through complex challenges in order to create a positive impact on their organizations. He thrives when interacting with others whether helping his team succeed or working with clients to build long-term partnerships. He has extensive experience consulting with organizations on driving their employee experience, guiding organizations through change, and working to ensure organizations are moving the needle when it comes to their results.

Most recently, Tommy was a Client Services Leader overseeing some of GP’s most prized accounts on a global level. His responsibilities included overall client growth strategy, retention, and satisfaction. He represented all of GP Strategies’ major business lines including leadership, coaching, and engagement, digital transformation, outsourced services, and technology implementation solutions.

Before GP Strategies, Tommy spent several years with TTEC Digital (formerly rogenSI) where he led the sales team,  eventually becoming the regional Learning & Performance practice leader for North America. While managing the P&L and sales team he also led the largest global relationship for the firm (Deloitte Globally). During his time at TTEC, he focused on delivering blended learning solutions that incorporate technology and hands-on training. Before TTEC Digital, he spent several years dedicated to strength-based leadership disrupting the business landscape regarding performance management and employee engagement with thought leader Marcus Buckingham at The Marcus Buckingham Company / TMBC (now ADP).

Tommy has had the privilege of working with some of the most well-known global brands in professional services, retail, technology, and healthcare including Deloitte, Facebook, Microsoft, Bank of America, Novartis, Gap Inc., lululemon, and Intel. Several projects he led for Deloitte were Global GNPS, New Partner Pivot, NextGen Partner Program Deloitte China, Present to Win, the RPM project on performance management, and Unconscious Bias.

Tommy holds a BS in Health Sciences from Texas A&M University, and an MBA from Universidad del CEMA.

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Lori Mazan

Co-Founder & CCO Sounding Board, Inc.
Lori Mazan is the Co-Founder and Chief Coaching Officer of Sounding Board, the preeminent global leadership development enterprise platform changing the face of leadership development through innovative technology for leaders at all levels of an organization. Lori is a seasoned executive coach who has guided hundreds of corporate executives through 1:1 coaching focused on business outcomes and developing critical leadership skills. Client companies advanced by Lori’s expertise include Fortune titans such as Chevron and Sprint as well as high growth and public companies like Intellikine, and Tapjoy, plus 10XGenomics, which became a public company in 2019 while top executives worked with Lori and the Sounding Board team.
Lori has spent the last 25 years coaching C-Suite executives to leadership excellence. Many of those public and private company CEO’s expressed that they would have liked this caliber of coaching earlier in their careers. Inspired by these experiences, Lori joined with Christine to launch Sounding Board as a feedback-driven, cloud-based leadership coaching platform that could maintain best-in-class leadership coaching while lowering costs to make it affordable and scalable for leaders at every level of their careers.
Before founding Sounding Board, Lori received her Masters’ in Adult Educational Psychology/Counseling from the University of San Francisco and a Bachelors’ in Psychology from the University of Virginia. Lori is an educator and has spent over 10 years as a professor of social psychology and group dynamics while acting as the interim Dean of Students at Holy Names University, She is certified by the industry’s gold standard, the Coaches Training Institute, and is a founding member of the Genentech Preferred Network of Coaches. Sounding Board is one of <3% of sole female founded startups receiving venture funding. In 2019 Sounding Board was selected as 1 of 7 startups (out of 100+ applicants) as part of SAP’s HR tech cohort, a group that represents the rising stars of the next-gen HR ecosystem.

Christine Tao

Co-Founder & CEO Sounding Board, Inc.
Christine Tao is the co-founder & CEO at Sounding Board, a Silicon Valley startup redefining how organizations are developing their leaders. Her extraordinarily rapid career growth to executive management in the media, mobile and tech sectors of Silicon Valley became her inspiration for founding Sounding Board. As she began to manage larger teams and be responsible for growing revenues, it became clear that she needed a “sounding board” to coach her on the development of her leadership skills. That’s where her Sounding Board co-founder, Lori Mazan came on the scene. A seasoned executive coach focused on leadership development, Lori coached Christine on real-world leadership skills that had a direct impact on business outcomes. Based on her positive and impactful experience with leadership development, Christine was driven to make leadership development coaching accessible to people at all levels of the organization.
Christine advises several startups, is a budding angel investor and is also a Tory Burch Foundation Fellow, a foundation dedicated to investing in the success and sustainability of women entrepreneurs.
Prior to co-founding Sounding Board, Christine was a Senior Vice President of Developer Relations at Tapjoy, a venture-backed, leading mobile advertising & publishing network. She led the growth of Tapjoy’s publisher advertising business from 0 to over $100 million in revenues in less than 3 years. Prior to that she led e-commerce partnerships and strategy at YouTube. Christine holds an MBA in Marketing & Operations from Wharton and a BA in Business Administration from UC Berkeley.