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3 Reasons to Format A Memory Card and Coach New Leaders

Updated: Dec 20, 2021

Several weeks ago, my cell phone started sending annoying messages about its full memory and impossibility to function properly. The easiest solution that came to my mind was the decision to buy and insert an external memory card with huge capacity. Clear and simple! In practice, it wasn’t as easy as I expected. The first thing I faced was the complexity of sending media files from the internal storage to the external one. It took a lot of time to move the media files to my PC and then to the SD memory card.

But it was just the beginning. The media files that were moved to the memory card didn’t appear in the phone’s gallery, new pictures and videos disappeared as time went by, not all the files were successfully moved to the memory card. I could try various methods to find an error but my guess was perfectly right. The first remedy for any problem with gadgets is rebooting, the first thing to do with a new memory card is formatting.

I googled and found several reason why it is a good idea to format a new memory card:

1. It is a way to prepare a flash memory card for data storage.

2. It cleans the card by removing previously existing data and information on the card.

3. It creates a new file system.

This story with the memory card reminded me of my recent work alongside emerging leaders and leaders in transition to new leadership roles. A phone is like a complex and overloaded organizational system that requires new leaders to adapt it to rapid changes and lead through the changes. New leaders, like memory cards, may have a huge capacity and potential for development and growth, capability to accomplish complex organizational goals, bring a fresh perspective to the established system. They are potentially a great asset for the organization, they just need some “formatting” to fit perfectly to their new roles.

This is a moment when a coach steps in. I see the same reasons to format a memory card and 'format' new leaders:

1. We explore a new system together to find out the vision, strengths, weaknesses, goals, and  challenges to be prepared for a new role and new environment, to understand how to take up the role in a more effective way.

2. We 'remove old data and files' (read: patterns, behaviors, and habits that won’t serve leaders in the new environment). Remember What Got You Here Won't Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful by Marshall Goldsmith?

3. We create 'a new file system' helping to improve the leader’s leadership skills, to integrate the leader into the role and the organization, to exert influence on a broader constituency, to adapt private life to the new role, to learn how to maximize the potential of every team member and drive the system’s growth.

The results of this kind of formatting are obviously positive in both cases. What do you think about a role of an executive coach in aligning a leader’s capabilities with the ambitions and strategy of the organization?


Goldsmith M. (2013). What Got You Here Won't Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful. Profile Books Ltd.

O’Neill, M. B. (2007). Executive Coaching with Backbone and Heart: A Systems Approach to Engaging Leaders with Their Challenges. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Stokes, J., & Jolly, R. (2018). Executive and Leadership Coaching. In: E. Cox, T. Bachkirova, & D. Clutterbuck (eds.), The complete handbook of coaching (pp.247-261). London, England: Sage.

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