True leadership is about who you are

Coaching leadership

The Power Of Coaching Leadership: How To Empower Your Team

Coaching leadership is a leadership style in which the leader acts as a coach, helping to develop the skills, knowledge, and abilities of team members. This style of leadership involves providing guidance and support, setting clear expectations, and helping team members set and achieve goals.


Coaching leadership focuses on the development of individuals and teams, rather than just achieving specific tasks or goals. This leadership style is effective in fostering a positive and empowering culture, as it encourages team members to take an active role in their own development and growth. It can also help to increase motivation, engagement, and retention of team members. 

The greatest challenge, according to research from 2018, include scaling coaching services, creating a coaching culture, implementing a coaching strategy to move further along the coaching maturity scale, and measuring the Return on Investment of a coaching engagement.



5 benefits of Coaching leadership

  1. Development of employee skills and abilities: Coaching leadership focuses on helping individuals develop their skills and abilities, which can lead to increased productivity and job satisfaction.
  2. Increased employee engagement: A coaching leader is often more approachable and supportive, which can lead to increased employee engagement and motivation.
  3. Improved communication and collaboration: Coaching leaders tend to be open-minded and foster open and honest communication, which can lead to improved collaboration and teamwork among employees.
  4. Greater flexibility and adaptability: Coaching leaders tend to be more open to new ideas and ways of doing things, which can lead to greater flexibility and adaptability within the organization.
  5. Improved problem-solving and decision-making: Coaching leaders often help individuals develop their problem-solving and decision-making skills, which can lead to improved performance and effectiveness.

characteristics of coaching leaders

  1. Empathy: Coaching leaders are able to understand and relate to the experiences and perspectives of their team members.
  2. Active listening: Coaching leaders are good listeners and pay attention to what team members are saying.
  3. Feedback: Coaching leaders provide constructive feedback that helps team members improve and grow.
  4. Goal-oriented: Coaching leaders help team members set and achieve specific goals, and provide the support and guidance needed to reach those goals.
  5. Encouragement: Coaching leaders motivate and encourage team members to take on new challenges and push themselves to improve.
  6. Adaptability: Coaching leaders are flexible and adaptable, and are able to modify their approach to fit the needs of different team members.
  7. Creativity: Coaching leaders encourage team members to think creatively and come up with new ideas.
  8. Patience: Coaching leaders are patient and understanding, and are willing to take the time to help team members develop their skills and abilities.

Downsides of Coaching leaders

  • Time-consuming: Coaching leadership can be time-consuming, as leaders need to take the time to understand the needs and goals of each individual employee, and provide support and guidance accordingly.
  • Dependence on leader: Employees who rely heavily on their coach-leader may struggle to make decisions or take initiative when the leader is not present.
  • May not be suitable for all employees: Coaching leadership may not be suitable for all employees, as some individuals may prefer a more directive or autocratic leadership style.
  • May not be suitable for all situations: Coaching leadership may not be effective in certain situations, such as during a crisis or when quick decisions need to be made.
  • May not be suitable for all industries: Coaching leadership is best suited for industries where creativity, innovation, and autonomy are valued, it might not be effective in industries that are highly regulated or require strict adherence to procedures.


Coaching leadership

How to overcome these downsides

  • Prioritize and manage time effectively: To overcome the time-consuming nature of coaching leadership, it is important to prioritize and manage time effectively. This can include setting clear goals and expectations for each coaching session, and focusing on the most pressing issues and concerns.
  • Encourage self-reliance: To overcome the dependence on the leader, it is important to encourage self-reliance and autonomy among employees. This can include providing opportunities for employees to take on leadership roles, and giving them the freedom to make decisions and take initiative.
  • Tailor leadership style to individual employees: To overcome the potential mismatch of leadership style with certain employees, it is important to tailor the leadership style to the individual employee. This can include assessing each employee’s strengths and weaknesses, and adapting the coaching approach accordingly.
  • Be adaptable: To overcome the limitations of coaching leadership in certain situations, it is important for leaders to be adaptable and flexible. This can include being open to different leadership styles and approaches, and being willing to modify the coaching approach as needed.
  • Regularly evaluate the effectiveness of coaching leadership: To overcome the limitations of coaching leadership in certain industries, it is important to regularly evaluate the effectiveness of the coaching leadership and make adjustments as needed. This can include gathering feedback from employees and measuring performance outcomes, and making changes to the coaching approach as necessary.


How to become a coaching leader

  • Emphasis on personal development: Coaching leadership places a strong emphasis on personal development and growth, with the leader serving as a mentor or coach who helps individuals set and achieve goals.
  • Focus on building relationships: Coaching leaders tend to focus on building strong relationships with employees, which can help to create a more positive and supportive work environment.
  • Active listening: Coaching leaders often employ active listening techniques to better understand the needs, concerns, and goals of employees, which can help to build trust and respect.
  • Goal-oriented: Coaching leaders often focus on helping employees set and achieve specific goals, which can help to increase motivation and engagement.
  • Continuous improvement: Coaching leadership encourages continuous improvement, by providing regular feedback, coaching, and opportunities for learning and development.
  • Encourage employee autonomy: Coaching leaders tend to encourage employee autonomy, by giving them the freedom to make decisions and take initiative, which can lead to increased job satisfaction and motivation.
  • Its not a one-time process: Coaching leadership is not a one-time process, but rather an ongoing process that requires regular check-ins, feedback, and support to ensure continued growth and development.


Difference with servant leadership

Coaching leadership and servant leadership are both leadership styles that focus on helping individuals develop and grow, but they have some key differences.

Coaching leadership is focused on helping individuals develop their skills and abilities, with the leader serving as a mentor or coach who helps set and achieve goals. The emphasis is on personal development and growth, with the leader working one-on-one with employees to help them improve their performance and reach their full potential.

Servant leadership, on the other hand, is a leadership style where the leader puts the needs of the team or organization above their own, and focuses on serving and empowering others. The emphasis is on creating a supportive and empowering environment, where individuals are given the tools and resources they need to succeed.

Both styles share a focus on helping individuals develop and grow, but coaching leadership is more focused on one-on-one development, while servant leadership is more focused on creating a supportive and empowering environment for the entire team or organization.


Recommended books

  • “The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever” by Michael Bungay Stanier
  • “The Art of Coaching Teams: Building Resilient Communities that Transform Schools” by Elena Aguilar
  • “Coaching for Performance” by Sir Johan Whitmore


If you’d like to compare visionary leadership with other styles of leadership, you can read this post:  Leadership Styles, Why and When They Matter.

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