Coaching style is a proven way for leaders to grow themselves

“Good leadership isn’t about advancing yourself. It’s about advancing your team.”

– John Maxwell 1

A team is as strong as its weakest link. As a leader, you must be able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of individuals. Not only that, you must be able to help them transform the weaknesses in order to achieve the set objectives. It’s only when the team grows does the leader grows. This way, the leader can connect an individual’s goals with that of the organization. The leader engages in frequent dialogue to provide support, challenge, and feedback to help the individual achieve her aspirations.

Coaching leaders help the team members to develop their long-term skills and help them to realize contributions to the overall team goal. The focus for Coaching Leaders is to give a support system to the team members that need it. This style focuses solely on the long-term and sacrifices short-term performance to allow space for experimentation. This leadership style hinges on being empathetic, encouraging, and patient. Moreover, the leader needs to have in-depth conversations with the employees that may not be related to their current work and rather be connected to what they need to do in the future.

When to use and when not to use

The coaching style is best suited in situations where you see that the team member is struggling or has the potential to perform much better given some mentoring. The individual must agree that there is a discrepancy between their current performance and their actual potential. The individual is motivated to step out of her comfort zone and take risks to move ahead. Moreover, the individual should be competent enough to try various things and be innovative. In case the individual zeal is missing, or the team member doesn’t make the required efforts, the leader’s attempt in coaching/mentoring her would fail. When used correctly, this style builds self-confidence for individuals and allows them to function autonomously at high levels of performance.

Also, for this style to work, the leader must be seen as competent and as an expert in what she is preaching. Also, in situations when quick turnarounds are required or there is a crisis, this style will fail. This style could often be confused by leaders who are high in Pace Setting. They may often think that they are coaching while they may be micro-managing in reality. Their focus remains on short-term results which is contradictory to the Coaching Style mantra.

Coaching leaders boost employee morale

The coaching leadership style enables the leaders to create rapport and trust by focusing on personal conversations. Since the leader is more focused on personal development rather than accomplishing tasks, she is able to create an outstanding emotional response and positive results. Although the focus is not on results, it comes as an indirect outcome automatically.

When used correctly, the Coaching style generates positive emotions such as a sense of achievement, feeling of being cared for, motivation, and mentored. This predominantly gives a sense that the leader is invested in the individual’s growth and development. All these conversations hinge on strong two-way candid communication, hence boosts overall communication patterns in the organization be it hearing what an employee has to say or passing downright information to the individual at the right time. The end outcome is higher performance and ownership from the individual. Positive emotions lead to higher employee productivity.

However, over usage of the style or when used with individuals that do not need the same can cause frustration in the individual. One, there is a lack of agility inherently linked to this style, hence short-term performance suffers for a longer duration. Moreover, in wrong situations or incorrect usage, i.e. leading to micromanagement, individuals feel a lack of self-worth and underappreciated.  

Go ahead, build it

The coaching leadership style is powerful. It can evoke a lot of positive emotions that boost productivity, performance, and ownership. In the end, a leader herself grows when someone can take her role in the organization and she can take a bigger role. Develop your coaching style by identifying people who need it and help them link their daily work with their personal development and long-term career objectives. To be successful, develop a personal interest in your team’s growth and help them achieve it. Keep the focus on long-term objectives and bring your credibility into the picture. Create opportunities that will challenge them but also help them build for the long term.


  2. Primal Leadership – Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, Annie McKee
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