This article has been provided by Helen Wada, Founder of The Human Advantage.

Taking the next step

For many roles, the initial pathway to success is to become a deep technical specialist, hone skills, build knowledge, and gain experience. A common challenge appears when progressing beyond the technical specialism. That could be for a broader leadership role, or a more commercial role, to grow the business by winning work.

The same challenge exists for organisations. There is often no playbook for building these broader capabilities and it is frequently more of a mind-set challenge, than a technical challenge. In today’s hot marketplace for talent, it is important to be able to nurture existing employees and grow from within.

For many, the thought of “sales” is enough to put them off moving to a front line, commercial role. However, the reality is that often those with technical knowledge are the people that you want in front of customers. Therefore, the question becomes: how can you give your technical specialists the confidence to have broader, commercial conversations that lead to their personal growth, whilst contributing to new business opportunities?

The current pressures

The pandemic has shone a new light on the importance of personal well-being which has resulted in many questioning the direction that they are heading in. They are re-evaluating what is important to them and how they can take care of themselves for long term success. Quite rightly, organisations are increasingly looking to ensure that they create a supportive and open environment. Yet, commercial pressures have not gone away. There remains a need to attract and retain the best talent to be successful in the market. Coupled with hybrid working (that looks as though it is here to stay), organisations are facing the perfect storm:

  • Demands from individuals: – An increasing need to support their people from a personal and professional perspective
  • A new way of working together: – A reduced amount of face-to-face time to facilitate learning and development “on the job”
  • A continued drive for growth: – Greater commercial pressures and innovation needed to meet customer requirements

A HUMAN solution

Traditional development approaches tend to focus on personal growth OR commercial growth. However, there is a common thread between personal development and commercial confidence. By taking a HUMAN approach, organisations can support their teams to understand their strengths and what matters to them. In turn, it enables individuals to focus on what drives them, build confidence in what they are doing, and importantly, understand why.

Commercial growth is driven by relationships. At the end of the day, we are looking at human to human conversation; helping clients to understand their issues and innovating together, to ignite thinking and solve problems. Technical skills are required, but the ability to explore challenges using coaching techniques and drawing insight, is critical in today’s complex corporate world.

Coaching has long been seen as an intervention to support performance development, individual team growth, and culture improvement. There is a recognition that a coaching mindset can lead to improved communication, awareness, and development of people within an organisation. But it can go further than this. A HUMAN approach to business growth looks at who your teams are and demonstrates how common techniques used in coaching, can also be applied to commercial conversations. The five key elements of the HUMAN approach are:

How you show up

Understand yourself and others


Ask better questions

Next steps and Negotiation (the HUMAN way)

A coaching approach to learning is about far more than training in the classroom (be it virtual or in-person). To embed new behaviours, individuals need to experiment and experience a new way of being. Coaching challenges people to view things with a different lens and stretch themselves beyond their existing comfort zone.

Coaching, therefore, has two roles in developing commercially confident individuals:

  • Adoption of a coaching mindset to build commercial muscles that focus on creating insight and action
  • Embedding new behaviours and stretching confidence into new areas of operating

Create T shaped leaders

A “T” shaped leader is one who has developed their technical abilities but is also ready to branch out and take on a new broader role, be this management or in a front-line role developing business. This transition can often be a daunting one that requires people to think and act in a different way. If supported correctly, this transition can be one that benefits both the individual and organisation that they are working with.

If you are interested in having a conversation about your talent challenges and how a coaching approach can grow your people and your business, please get in touch.

Contact Helen by emailing

You can also find Helen on LinkedIn @HelenMWada OR find out more about how she can help your business by visiting The Human Advantage.