Why Leadership Coaching Is the Career Hack You Never Knew You Needed

Be someone people want to follow

<p>Yulia Reznikov / Getty Images</p>

Yulia Reznikov / Getty Images

Depending on your personality, the notion of leadership can bring up a variety of emotions. Some of us rejoice at the chance to be the captain of the ship, while others dread nothing more.

Whether you enjoy being the leader or not, many people will find themselves in a leadership position at some point or other—but most of us have never been taught how to take charge and manage a team effectively.

We get promoted to a leadership position and then we fly by the seat of our pants...which can make leadership and expected duties a lot more tedious and unclear. So how do we get others to follow and respect us when we land in that position? What makes a good leader? Leadership coaching might be exactly what you need.

At a Glance

Leadership coaching can better equip you or members of your team with the skills necessary to be effective leaders. For many people, leadership doesn't come naturally, and stepping into this position without any guidance can be detrimental. Leadership coaching will make you more aware of your strengths and weaknesses and how you can ultimately thrive in your role.

Related: 10 Tips for Leading Like a Boss

What is Leadership Coaching?

Leaders gain the skills and ability to drive positive change within themselves and their teams. They can help communicate the organization’s mission and vision, and align their team’s efforts to the strategic goals. This can lead to improved overall organizational performance. But even if the leaders are pushing their subordinates to meet team goals, without adequate training it's possible the leader could be putting their followers on a path to burnout.

And this is where leadership coaching comes in. Leadership coaching is a process where you work with a coach to improve your leadership skills and performance to meet your professional and personal goals.

Tanis Frame, Leadership Coach, Speaker and Facilitator who spearheads Luminous Leadership Collective explained that her work as a leadership coach is all about supporting leaders to thrive as leaders, which goes a step beyond merely succeeding. She shared that many people succeed in their leadership but—oftentimes due to burnout—it comes at a tremendous personal cost.

“Thriving in leadership starts with deeply aligned and integrated personal leadership (or self-leadership) — without which we can’t effectively nor sustainably lead anyone or anything else,” adds Frame.

The collaborative relationship you have with your coach allows you to unlock your potential. A coach helps you understand the best way you should lead, your blindspots, talents, communication style, and how to effectively engage with your team.

Benefits of Leadership Coaching

A strong relationship between a leader and their employees can make or break a company. A leader who has coaching training can help their staff through challenges and empathize with their needs.

"Good leadership coaching will challenge the client to think differently, to see differently, and to move differently and to expand into a truer expression of their abilities and service as a leader."

Tanis Frame, leadership coach

Furthermore, leadership coaching is important for individuals and organizations. It’s a win-win for both parties.

A study looked at the impact of the coaching skills of 271 leaders on their employees across different industries. It showed that a leader’s coaching skills can positively affect employees’ happiness and reduce turnover intention.

Improved self-awareness and personal growth

Leaders who have fortified their skills via coaching are generally better equipped to recognize their strengths and weaknesses and make observations about their leadership style. Cultivating a greater sense of self-awareness can make you more adaptable to varied types of people and situations.

“Good leadership coaching will challenge the client to think differently, to see differently, and to move differently and to expand into a truer expression of their abilities and service as a leader,” explains Frame.

Related: What's Your Leadership Style?

More effective communication and team building

Leadership coaching allows you to learn about your communication style including tone, nonverbal cues, and body language. When you learn to communicate more effectively, building meaningful relationships with your teams and improving overall dynamics becomes easier.

Cultivates a continuous learning mindset

Leadership coaches will help you discover where you thrive and where you can improve. They encourage you to embrace your flaws and develop a growth and learning mindset.

“What I found most liberating [about leadership coaching] is that I don’t have to show up as perfect, I just have to show up. If I make mistakes, I can learn from them and move forward in my journey,” explains Yap Chan.

Techniques Utilized in Leadership Coaching

There are several techniques that leadership coaches use.

Goal Setting and Action Planning

Coaches work with leaders to define specific, measurable, realistic and time-bound objectives that align with their personal aspirations and organizational deliverables.

They help them create actionable goals by breaking down larger objectives into smaller, manageable steps and identifying potential challenges.

Active Listening

Coaches employ active listening techniques, such as paraphrasing and summarizing, to fully understand the leader’s perspective. They give their full attention to what the leader is saying and reflect on their thoughts and feelings.

Effective Questioning

Coaches use open-ended and probing questions to guide leaders in exploring their thoughts, values, and motivations. This technique encourages self-reflection and a deeper understanding of personal and professional challenges.

Providing Feedback

Constructive feedback is offered to leaders, emphasizing strengths and opportunities for improvement. Coaches deliver feedback in a way that encourages growth and cultivates a positive learning environment.

Ensuring Accountability

Coaches help leaders stay accountable for their goals and action plans. Regular check-ins and assessments ensure progress is tracked, and adjustments are made as needed.

How is leadership coaching structured?

Frame explained that leadership coaching can take many forms. From group learning and facilitation, group coaching, and private coaching, to working with teams or clients in embodied ways through movement and somatic practices or creative play exercises to build our range and understanding of ourselves.

She shared that she also uses equine-facilitated leadership coaching. This involves bringing her clients to work with horses to learn about their unique leadership styles, strengths, and areas to grow. They get the opportunity to embody new energies and build new muscles in their leadership range.

Successful Leadership Coaching Interventions

Bournelis shared a personal success story with leadership coaching. She was working with a talented colleague who was feeling the imposter syndrome. Her colleague was concerned about the impact she was having on a politically sensitive initiative with multiple partners.

Bournelis used coaching questions to step out of ‘advice-giving mode’ and was stunned at how much better that worked and landed for her. Her colleague walked away with a series of next steps and powerful coaching questions she would use with her clients and sponsors while feeling more empowered in her role as a coach and leader herself.

Implementing a Leadership Coaching Program

If you’re looking to implement a leadership program, Frame shared that there are a couple of ways to get started. There are boilerplate programs such as Emerging Human.

However, she recommends bringing in someone who has experience in leadership coaching and experience design who can help you look at your team to identify and develop a program that’s a fit for your people.

You can start with anything from wellness, to leadership identity to presence, to developing coaching skills for more effective team management and development, to confidence and negotiation skills, to dealing with imposter syndrome.

Frame advised that there’s a range of leadership development that you can focus on. Therefore, finding fit is key to implementing an effective leadership coaching program.

Here are some steps to help you get started:

Identify Coaching Needs

Conduct a thorough assessment of the organization’s leadership needs. Identify areas for improvement, skills gaps, and developmental opportunities. Yeung shared the following questions to ask yourself:

  • What problem are you trying to solve?

  • Who needs your coaching program? Why?

  • Are there existing coaching programs that you can partner with or identify gaps that you can fill?

Select and Train Coaches

Identify individuals within the organization who can serve as coaches. Look for individuals with strong interpersonal skills, coaching experience, and a deep understanding of the organization’s culture and goals. Provide comprehensive training for selected coaches.

Establish the Coaching Program

Carefully match coaches with leaders based on their expertise, needs, goals, and personalities. Define the structure of the coaching program.

Implement Coaching Sessions

Arrange an initial meeting with coaches and leaders establish rapport and set expectations. Schedule regular coaching sessions to review progress, discuss challenges, and adjust goals as needed.

Evaluate Coaching Effectiveness

Establish feedback mechanisms for both leaders and coaches. Collect feedback on the coaching process, and its impact on leaders, and make any adjustments as needed.

Therefore, although some people may be naturally talented at leading, it’s not something you need to be born with. Leadership coaching can give you the tools and skills to become an effective leader.

If you’re interested in learning more about leadership coaching, here are some sites to explore:

Read the original article on Verywell Mind.