Why Every Successful Leader Needs Leadership Coaching

Leadership coaching needs to happen at all stages of professional development, not just within the C-suite. Why? Well, one reason is that leaders don’t spontaneously grade their skills after receiving a promotion. Meaning, they may not know where they need to improve, or what strengths they can double down on to create organizational impact and to advance their professional goals. 

At Sounding Board, we believe that leaders should be committed to developing better skills and reaching their highest potential, which requires intentionality, structure, and guidance. When they commit to this level of leadership development — with their organization’s full support — leadership coaching can be transformative.

Leadership coaching works, and it’s necessary

Often incorrectly looped in with mentoring, leadership coaching is an individualized development strategy that helps business leaders at all levels to develop capabilities they lack, and strengthen skills they already possess.

Today’s business leaders are under immense pressure. Many grapple with the shift to remote work, losing key talent to The Great Resignation, and personally and professionally navigating the pandemic. Are your leaders sufficiently supported during this period of high pressure and disruptive change? Do their direct reports trust their abilities to handle it? Some 2020 research from ADP shows that employees who trust their leaders’ abilities are 14 times more likely to be fully engaged at work

“The coach’s primary job is to help the leader find a way to be the most productive, highest-potential version of themselves,” said Lori Mazan, co-founder and chief coaching officer for Sounding Board.

Here are a few ways leadership coaching develops great leaders:

They learn to generate and include new perspectives in their work.

Even successful leaders have blind spots – everyone does. The biggest problems often develop when we can’t recognize them. Leadership coaching invites leaders to view work, their organization, even themselves, from new perspectives. When leaders acknowledge and leverage this diversity of thought, they can better promote successful business outcomes long term. 

Developing leadership capabilities such as self awareness, communication, and interpersonal skills, are an underrated solution to help leaders understand myriad obstacles, then create a toolkit to overcome them. For example, when it comes to difficult manager-employee relationships, soft skills like self-awareness can help improve the relationship greatly. Leadership coaching creates space for executives to build self-awareness of their own skill gaps – and then help to fill gaps within the organization. Employees who receive tech-enabled leadership coaching have a space to talk through ways to own their organizational impact, and learn how to better engage with their managers.

Leadership coaching produces tangible ROI

Talent leaders no longer have to rely on anecdotal “evidence” to prove the ROI for leadership coaching. Tech-enabled coaching management platforms remove the guesswork by showing the benefits of leadership coaching through data.

For instance, after a six-month leadership coaching engagement, leaders in software company UserTesting saw 32 percent improvement in their executive presence, and 21 percent growth in their ability to lead high-performing teams. Leaders from software development consulting firm Pivotol Labs saw 173 percent improvement in interpersonal skills, and 91 percent strongly agreed that coaching improved their ability to reach business goals.

It enables targeted, more substantive development.

In too many organizations there is a disconnect between how talent leaders have historically run leadership development programs and how it needs to function to create tomorrow’s successful, innovative, highly capable leaders. For example, according to 2020 research by IBM’s Institute for Business Value, 61 percent of surveyed HR leaders now identify “deeply personalized experience-centric design” as a top priority in their learning and development strategies. Rather than developing leaders in traditional classroom settings, or static online courses, leadership coaching is almost a sure thing when it comes to providing individualized skill development. 

According to the IBM research, continuously and transparently measuring employee performance must be a top priority because “clear and continuous coaching and performance conversations are essential to proactively address workforce and performance issues.” They suggest the following action steps to develop continuous and transparent measurement:

  • Establish a rhythm of perpetual feedback throughout the year
  • Promote transparency with leaders through shared goal setting
  • Apply analytics to link results to workforce growth and development

Similarly, IBM shows that since leadership roles require evolving skills and behaviors, investing in measurable leadership development creates the ability to predict strong leaders. Key action items for supporting leadership roles include:

  • Leverage AI and predictive analytics to identify new leaders
  • Foster transparency with the workforce through ongoing dialogue

Further, these ideas work. According to their research, 83 percent of outperforming organizations report having a deep pipeline of future leaders.

It can enable and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Organizations can use leadership coaching to build a more diverse talent pipeline. When open to leaders at all levels – rather than only for senior roles – this investment in organizational growth democratizes development opportunities. Providing personalized leadership coaching for underrepresented populations helps to diversify your leader bench, and it can shift current leaders’ perspectives, and help them understand how to create a more inclusive workplace.  

For example, purposefully developing leadership capabilities like empathy, self-awareness, and learning how to demonstrate inclusive leadership are all tenants of Sounding Board’s leadership coaching methodology. Leadership coaching is an effective way to build a more inclusive leader. Leveraging coaching in your leadership development strategy is key to program success.

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We Develop The World's Most Impactful Leaders

Sounding Board offers virtual and scalable enterprise learning solutions that are flexible enough to adapt to rapidly changing work environments. Powered by behavioral science and core leadership capabilities, our proven coaching methodology drives measurable business impact.

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.