Executive Acceleration: From Technical Expert to Leader


Eric had intellectual firepower to spare. With a PhD in electrical engineering and more than 50 scholarly articles to his credit, he was an acknowledged expert in his field.  He also had a successful track record as the team leader of a $10 million international project. Due to the sudden retirement of the Executive Director for health reasons, Eric was promoted to the top position on the basis of his past project successes and his technical reputation. His responsibilities now included oversight of the organization’s 1,500 employees and spearheading an acquisition of their largest competitor.

As a newly minted leader, Eric was acutely aware of what he did not know. He was also passionate and committed to succeeding in his new position.  When the retiring Executive Director suggested that he work with an executive coach to scale up quickly, Eric seized the suggestion enthusiastically as a just-in-time service to support his successful transition.


Eric’s executive acceleration program included a custom assessment or fact-finding phase. His coach conducted one-on-one interviews with all key stakeholders, including board directors and his senior management team of direct reports. Some of his direct reports had been his superiors formerly.  He also undertook a comprehensive behavioral battery, his first ever, which shed light on his thinking, communication, and interpersonal styles.

Eric’s program focused on his immediate needs:

  • Elevate his executive presence
  • Raise his strategic focus to enterprise-wide issues and opportunities
  • Enhance his interpersonal communications with key constituencies inside and outside the organization.


His coach’s initial fact-finding confirmed Eric’s thinking about appointing a chief operating officer to handle the day-to-day aspects of the business acquisition.

Eighteen months later, Eric became the organization’s first chief executive officer in recognition of solid post-acquisition business results and the retention of key talent.

That’s brilliant execution!

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About the Author

Susan Battley

An advisor to Fortune 100 executives and world-class institutions for more than twenty years, Dr. Susan Battley is an internationally recognized expert on CEO and leadership effectiveness. Her clients include Fortune 500 companies, professional service firms, and elite research institutions. She has worked with chief executives, university presidents, Nobel laureates, and prominent scientists, diplomats, and educators. A respected media source for analyzing leadership in the context of news-breaking events and key trends, Battley has been featured in outlets worldwide including CNN, CNBC, Fox, Bloomberg, and National Public Radio, and in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Chief Executive, Business Week, United Press International, Harvard Management Update, Entrepreneur, Science, Leader to Leader, Investments, and Worth. She is the founder and CEO of Battley Performance Consulting, a leadership strategy and organization effectiveness consultancy.