Transforming Troublesome Leaders – Avoiding the Cost of Replacement with Developmental Retention

The Problem?

A leader working for you has many fine qualities but also has one or more deficiencies that are unacceptable.  You’re at a crossroads.  You want to retain this leader because of the results they deliver, but there’s too much baggage.  Now what?


What else is relevant to know?

There’s a critical shortage of effective leaders across our society, and business is no exception.  Replacing only has an 18% chance of success, but there is hope.  Read on.

  • A 2016 Gallup survey revealed that 82% of managers aren’t proficient leaders.
  • Joseph Rosse, from the Leeds School of Business in Colorado, studied the cost of replacing a manager earning between $100 – $250K and found it to be about 40x their salary. Yikes!
  • A 2021 Report on Leadership Coaching by Sounding Board, Inc. says 72% of organizations use leadership coaching.
  • MetrixGlobal, LLC found that the average return on leadership coaching was $7.90 for every dollar invested.
  • Many studies have shown that leadership coaching dramatically improves productivity, engagement, and retention.
  • Leadership coaching works and it’s worth the investment.


The Conclusion? 

Improving the effectiveness of troublesome leaders is possible with coaching, and it beats replacing them.


The Solution?

Invest in leadership coaching but be sure that the process you use includes the six elements outlined below.


What are the essential elements of an effective leadership coaching process?

  1. Deploy the process widely. There should be coaching at all levels, but at least one level above the target level.
  2. Engage an experienced Leadership Coach who uses proven methods. Stay away from the latest fads.  Lots of the coaching can be done by internal players, but the system must be designed well.
  3. Use an “Open Design”. Make sure that everyone involved knows why the organization is doing this and where they stand.  Don’t use leadership coaching as a clandestine process to “fix” people.  Use it as an integrated part of your organizational development and continuous improvement processes.
  4. Include good and poor performers alike. Using leadership coaching as a remedial tool can be perceived negatively, thereby diminishing its effectiveness, so only use it in a remedial way sparingly, and thoughtfully.
  5. Establish a baseline and track progress. Measure these five things: Individual Leadership Behaviors, Business Performance, the Impact on Organizational Health, Employees’ Perception of the Leader, and The Leader’s Perception of Self.  There are many ways to measure these things.  Pick some and create a Leadership Effectiveness Scorecard.
  6. Make a long-term commitment. Fund it.  Analyze results. Seek feedback from all involved.’s holistic system provides excellent support when coaching leaders.  No matter what, stay focused on the goal – developing good leaders.  If the process is not working, tweak or change the process, but not the goal.


About the Author

About the author – Dave Cahill currently serves as President of, the world’s only organizational alignment app, as Managing Partner of Avanulo, a global performance enhancement firm, and as a Cohost of the TPL Show, a podcast about leadership (  Dave has coached scores of C-suite and senior leaders in many industries.  He has taught leadership, continuous improvement, and crisis resolution to thousands of people in 10 countries.  Dave has served in line and staff positions for world-class organizations like Tenneco, Groupe Danone, Mead Johnson, and the US Army.  He speaks English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, and Russian and has lived and worked across the US, and in Mexico, Brazil, Europe, and the old Soviet Union.  He is married with 8 children, four grandchildren, and 18 foster children.  Dave currently resides in rural Ohio with his lovely wife, Andrea.  Want to know more about leadership coaching and how it might benefit your organization?  Write Dave at or call him at 419-202-4996 in the US.

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