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April 26, 2023 4 Min Read

Leader As Coach

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Leader as Coach

Sports teams have a tradition of having a coach who helps individuals and the team develop their skills, knowledge, and abilities so that they can perform at their best. A workplace leader who adopts a coaching leadership style can have the same effect, developing and empowering individuals and teams to reach their full potential in their work and careers. 

Becoming a “leader as coach” requires preparation and practice. Surveys show that only 20% of managers possess the natural ability to coach their team members. Data like this indicates that leadership coaching involves skills and behaviors that are based on key principles of what it means to coach successfully. The good news is that coaching can be learned and developed. With the right approach, any leader can become an effective coach. 

Coaching leadership is a style of leadership in which you, as a leader, help your team members and/or peers become their best selves by further building on their strengths and identifying blind spots. It involves providing support and guidance over time, with the ultimate goal of individual development. It is a collaborative approach to leadership, where the leader partners with team members to help them achieve their goals. This style of leadership is focused on building relationships with team members and creating a culture of open communication, where team members are encouraged to share their ideas and perspectives.


Adopting The Right Mindset

To become an effective coach, it’s important to adopt a coaching mindset. This means having the willingness, confidence, and competence to behave in a coaching manner. 

A coaching mindset begins by assuming positive intent. This means believing that people have the best intentions while demonstrating positive feedback and reinforcement. The coaching mindset empowers team members by allowing them the freedom to safely make decisions, take risks, and learn from their mistakes. In the same way, in the role of coach you are empowered to use creative approaches to develop each team member based on their unique experiences and interests.

Coaching takes time and patience. Team members need to process feedback, learn, and experiment in order to optimize the coaching they are receiving.  Time and patience pay off for a leader as coach because investing in the development of team members benefits the individuals, the team, and the organization.

Above all, a coaching mindset is grounded in the belief that you can have an impact. Sometimes referred to as a growth mindset, there is power in learning from mistakes and taking inspiration from the success of others. As a coach this may mean letting go of a fixed mindset, consciously stepping back and doing less telling and more listening, even if you believe you have the answer. 


The Pillars Of Coaching Leadership 

A coaching mindset sets the foundation. Add to it empathy and trust. A leader as coach needs to create a psychologically safe environment where your team members feel comfortable being vulnerable and asking for help. Additionally, you should be skilled at providing effective feedback to your team members, focusing on honesty, clarity, constructive actions, and carefully planning your conversations to create a two-way dialogue.


A Framework For Effective Coaching Conversations

The effective coaching conversation structure allows for demonstrating understanding, forward-thinking, empathy, and sharing experiences in a way that builds safety and trust.  In a true coaching conversation, the leader’s role is to ask thought-provoking questions, not provide answers, while encouraging ownership of the solution, and a clear focus on follow-up action. The flow of the conversation is guided by the order of the questions, beginning with agreed-upon goals for what success looks like, for example, is there a specific goal or outcome to focus on, and is it reasonable or attainable?

Once a goal is established, the options can be explored. Consider asking “what have you already tried?” or “if you had a magic wand, what would you do?” Then ask what the person intends to do. What is their next step, and how likely is it that they will be accountable? 

Asking open ended questions like these demonstrates a coaching style of leadership. 


Coaching Leadership Delivers Value 

Coaching Leadership is a complex art, it is intricate and can sometimes appear to be a complicated practice. However, with the right mindset, a thorough understanding of its purpose and practice, and knowing the right questions to ask, coaching can have a significant impact on employee engagement and turnover. Studies have shown that employees who leave companies would have reconsidered their decision if their leader had offered more support and guidance. 

Organizations are increasingly abandoning directive styles of leadership to embrace a coaching leadership style that prioritizes the growth and development of their team members. They invite communication, success, collaboration, and engagement in the workplace. If you are interested in practicing and further development of your coaching leadership skills and behaviors, consider a 1:1 session with a TaskHuman coach. 


Book your session with Coach Lauren Springer or another leadership coach today!


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