The concept of Coaching Leadership was created in the late 1960s by Paul Hersey and Kenneth Blanchard but it wasn’t until 2002 when psychologist and author Daniel Goleman documented it as one of his six leadership styles that it became popular.
Today Coaching is a recognised approach to leadership and its popularity among organisations of all sizes and across all industries seems to be growing. In 2014 a survey was conducted by the International Coach Federation in the States, surveying over 500 of the largest US companies. 81% of the respondents said that they will lead people and grow talent through coaching indeed.
This is no surprise as using coaching as a leadership style has a proven record of impacting companies positively. The reason why this leadership style delivers such incredible results can, to a large extent, be credited to the fact that it is hugely based on investing in people and people are every business’ biggest asset. As Richard Branson famously says:
“Clients don’t come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your clients.”
Before going into the benefits of Coaching Leadership let’s clarify first of all:
What is Coaching Leadership?
Coaching Leadership is a leadership style where a leader is directly involved in the development of their people seeking to advance their personal and professional growth. A coaching leader helps people build on their strengths, recognise their weaknesses and improve their skills. Thus, a coaching leader helps employees align their personal goals and career aspirations and recognise how it all fits together.
What is Required for Coaching Leadership to Work?
There are two pre-requisites for Coaching Leadership to work. First, the employees need to be willing to work on themselves, learn and improve. And second, the leader needs to have sufficient knowledge and experience, especially in the field in question, to provide guidance to their employees. When these two are in place, coaching as a leadership style can be immensely beneficial both to individuals and consequently the organisation.
What are the Benefits of Coaching Leadership?
Coaching Leadership is a technique that can be applied in various fields from sport to philanthropy to business, etc. The benefits of the Coaching Leadership style are:
Because Couching Leadership is a very hands-on approach where the leader invests time and effort in providing challenging tasks, constructive feedback and on-going advice and guidance, employees gain better understanding of what is required of them, what their role is in the big picture and most importantly, they understand the overall vision or strategy of the organisation.
- Better Prepared Professionals
The core of Coaching Leadership is the continuous improvement of employees’ skills. This is not limited to teaching them how to do their job better but training them to think critically, take on challenges, learn from their mistakes, etc. In essence, Coaching Leadership is a sort of mentorship really. Thus, leading through coaching effectively fulfils the definition of a leader according to the American business management writer Tom Peter:
“Leaders don’t create followers. They create more leaders.”
Coaching Leadership helps cultivate leaders.
- More Motivation, More Loyalty
Coaching Leadership requires a continuous dialogue between a leader and an employee. The two work closely together on the employee’s improvement and development. As a result, the employee feels that somebody cares about what they do and how they do. Thus an actual relationship between the leader and the employee is established. The fact that somebody has a vested interest in your success is not only motivating, it boosts commitment and loyalty too.
- Better Working Environment
The commitment on the part of a leader to invest their time in teaching an employee and helping them develop their skills is something that few people overlook. From experience, when asked what the main benefit of the organisation they work for is, most people say that this is their company’s willingness to invest time and resources in their development. People do appreciate that and it is not only motivating, it improves the morale within the organisation and makes it a more pleasant place to work at.
Despite the fact that Coaching Leadership is growing in popularity in the US, research by Daniel Goleman shows that still many companies are reluctant to adopt this leadership style as managers tend to believe they don’t have the time to help others. While it is true that Coaching Leadership requires time and patience, it is also an investment that even if not seemingly directly related to bottom-line results, it is.
In times when competition in most industries is more fierce that ever before, when companies are struggling to retain talent, when Millennials, known for their lack of long-term commitment, are growing as a proportion of the workforce worldwide, Coaching Leadership may prove to be the best approach to managing and leading people. Not only does it help build a more personal relationship between a company and its employees, it also creates better prepared cadres and cultivates leaders.
Margaret Considine is CEO of EQuita Consulting.
EQuita Consulting are global experts in delivering Executive Education, Strategic Consulting and Workplace solutions. With specialist expertise in Commercial Negotiation, Mediation, Conflict & Dispute Resolution, Bullying & Harassment Investigations and Personal Productivity.
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