Coaching as a leadership style

I often discuss ‘what is leadership’ with my delegates during our leadership workshops.  Definitions of leadership often include essentials such as being visionary and enabling change amongst a range of other traits.  I believe that coaching enables a leader to unlock the potential of their colleagues through meaningful conversations.  I believe that through these meaningful conversations that organisations, teams and individuals can achieve the successful outcomes that they peruse.

Coaching focuses on the person, not the task and therefore allows the leader to take an active interest in their colleague; to find out about them, their hopes, and dreams.  Coaching, done effectively, can make the colleague feel valued and an important contributor to the team.

Sir John Whitmore in his book ‘Coaching for Performance’, wrote about the GROW (Goal, Reality, Options, Will/way forward) model.  This model aims to raise awareness and responsibility of the coachee.  Leading using a coaching style will enable the colleague to be aware of what they want to achieve, how important it is and generate ideas for their route ahead.  The colleague can then start to visualise their achievement coming to life.  It can provide an honest and accurate awareness of their current position and how close to or far away they are from achieving their goal.

If the leader is aware of their own preferred leadership style, they can adapt their approach so that they can coach effectively.  For example, if a leader imparted their own objective on their colleague, it might indicate they are more comfortable using more of a directive style.  Likewise, a person with a naturally supportive style of leadership, may inadvertently propose or suggest solutions to the colleague.  Both have the potential to dilute the responsibility and ownership of the goal.

Adopting a coaching approach as a leadership style enables opportunities to deliver huge benefits.  A leader that facilitates a person centric conversation that stretches the colleague in a safe, yet challenging way is invaluable.  Asking powerful questions will elicit ideas and plans.  Listening with fascination will allow the leader to understand what is being said including intuitively ‘listening between the lines’, to what is not being said.  Demonstrating these superb coaching skills will build trust, commitment, help build positive relationships, motivate, create desire to perform and ultimately contribute to the colleague’s ultimate objective.

A colleague rarely forgets a great leader.  A leader that inspires them to aim higher, who believes in them as an individual, builds platforms of opportunities and drives their development forwards.

I’m intrigued to find out how your leadership approach enhances your coaching outcomes. Also, if you are interested in further exploration of your preferred leadership style or developing your coaching skills, please get in touch.

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