How a leader interacts with team members in the workplace impacts performance, which can be the difference between success and failure.
For this reason, a leader needs to assess a leadership style before using it to take advantage of team members' strengths.
One leadership style worth exploring is the coaching leadership style. This style is increasingly gaining acceptance in today's workplace as a great way of enhancing professional development for team members.
The coaching leadership style empowers individual team members to reach their full potential. In this type of leadership, the leader becomes the mentor — offering guidance, constructive feedback, and support — to improve competency and performance.
In his book, The New Leaders: Transforming the Art of Leadership, Daniel Goleman argues that:
A leader with a coaching leadership style develops people for the future. He/she displays empathy and has a high level of self-awareness. This leader helps employees improve their performance and assists them in developing long-term strategies.
The coaching leadership style focuses on the following traits:
A coaching leader is empathetic and understands the feelings and emotions of their team members through genuine interest. This is because they can put themselves in their shoes. This way, they listen actively and are responsive to their team's needs.
For a leader, this shows a high level of emotional intelligence.
Example: A coaching leader who notices that one of their team members is struggling with a delegated task will take the time to understand the problem and provide support to help the team member overcome the challenge and achieve long-term wins.
A coaching leader values teamwork and encourages collaboration and partnership among team members. They foster a culture of openness, transparency, and physiological safety, so everyone feels comfortable sharing their ideas and perspectives.
Example: A coaching leader who promotes collaboration will organize regular team meetings to encourage brainstorming and idea-sharing sessions. They will ensure that everyone's ideas are heard and considered.
A coaching leader encourages continuous learning and development, including initiatives such as coaching and mentoring. They provide opportunities for their team members to learn new skills, acquire knowledge and expertise, and grow professionally.
Example: A coaching leader who values continuous personal development will organize training programs, workshops, and mentoring sessions to help their team members develop new skills and enhance their knowledge.
A coaching leader provides regular feedback to their team members. They offer constructive feedback to help their team members improve their performance.
A feedback-oriented coaching leader will provide specific and actionable feedback to their team members. They will highlight areas of improvement and provide suggestions for how to improve.
Example: "Your presentation today was wonderful. You only need to watch out on time:..."
A coaching leader helps their team members set goals and provides support to achieve success. They align individual goals with organizational objectives and ensure everyone works towards a common goal.
Example: A leader who embraces a coaching leadership style will work with their team members to set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound) goals and incorporate them into a firm's leadership culture.
Active listening is a critical component of effective coaching leadership. It involves paying full attention, asking questions, and providing timely feedback.
By actively listening to your team members, you will build trust and create a safe environment where they feel heard and understood.
Some characteristics of active listening include:
Example: Instead of asking a closed question, like: "Did you finish the project on time?," a coaching leader might ask an open-ended question, like: "How did you approach the project and what challenges did you face?"
The coaching leadership style has a wide range of applications in the workplace. Here are some examples of how coaching leadership can be applied in different areas of the workplace:
Employee Development: To help individual team members reach their goals, coaching leaders can engage with them to identify areas for skill improvement. They can then assist in setting goals and offer continuing support and feedback as team members move forward.
This way, employee engagement, motivation, and performance can all improve.
Career Advancement: Through high-value conversations, coaching leaders can assist their team members in defining their career objectives, creating career plans, and offering advice and assistance to help in career development.
This can motivate employees and foster a more devoted staff where workers feel valued and are invested in their work.
Team Building: By encouraging their team members to share ideas and work together on projects, coaching leaders may foster an environment that is open to learning, experimentation, and growth.
This can lead to a more effective team that quickly accomplishes its objectives.
Change Management: Leaders can assist team members in managing change through a coaching leadership relationship that explains why the changes are taking place and the implications of these changes. As a result, employees may feel more safe in the workplace, facilitating a smoother transfer and providing better results.
Conflict Resolution: By promoting open and courteous communication amongst team members, fostering opportunities to establish common ground, and aiding in developing solutions that satisfy all parties, coaching leaders can assist their staff in resolving disagreements, such as when dealing with difficult coworkers.
Implementing a coaching style of leadership requires a thoughtful and deliberate approach, which can be enhanced through executive coaching.
Here are some tips for leaders who want to implement a coaching leadership style in their workplace:
Clarify Goals and Expectations: To effectively practice this coaching style, leaders must communicate their expectations and goals to their team members.
They should set SMART goals and provide a feedback mechanism on progress.
Develop a Coaching Mindset: Leaders must develop a coaching mindset by empowering team members rather than directing or controlling them. To develop a coaching mindset, do the following:
Invest in Training: Coaching leaders must invest in training to build their coaching skills. This eventually pays off in the long term. They should attend workshops and training sessions that teach coaching techniques and strategies.
Foster Trust: Trust is essential in a coaching style of leadership. Leaders must learn to build trust with their team members to set the foundation for future engagement.
Some ways of fostering trust in your team include practicing transparency, showing genuine concern, offering constructive feedback, and showing interest in the professional growth of team members.
Create a Culture of Learning: Coaching leaders should encourage a culture of learning in their organization. A culture of learning in the workplace is one where employees are eager to learn new knowledge that improves their competency.
A leader should foster this behavior by leading by example; this way, a coaching relationship becomes easier to implement as the pace is set.
Provide Ongoing Feedback: Make it a point to offer regular feedback to influence the right behavioral mindset.
Focus on constructive feedback and positive feedback that is specific, actionable, and timely.
The coaching leadership style has the following benefits: enhanced employee engagement, improved productivity, better communication, and conflict resolution among team members.
Moreover, this leadership style leads to a robust, high-achieving team that can propel the organization toward success.
The coaching style differs from other leadership styles as it emphasizes empowering employees more than managing or directing them — like in the autocratic style.
In addition, it emphasizes continuous learning, innovation, and growth culture, supports continuing employee development, and offers ongoing support and feedback.
Developing a coaching leadership style requires a clear strategy, including enrolling in a leadership development class where you will learn more about the different leadership styles, including key skills such as strong communication skills, conflict resolution, and mentorship.
At Highrise, we offer leadership development programs for growth-minded individuals seeking to lead teams.
Coaching leadership can work in all industries, including start-ups and established companies. For example, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is known to use this approach.
Coaching leadership can be especially effective in industries where the managerial mindset is geared toward employee development and continuous improvement.
Common coaching techniques in coaching leadership include active listening, asking open-ended & relevant questions, knowing how to guide conversations, providing action-oriented feedback, setting SMART goals, and encouraging self-awareness.
When well-structured, a coaching leadership style can help improve employee performance.
To help their team members reach their objectives, coaching leaders engage with them to define goals, pinpoint areas for growth, and offer continuing support and feedback. As a result, there may be an increase in staff engagement, motivation, and work output.
Some challenges of coaching leadership include the need to devote time and money to employee development, opposition from staff members who are not open to coaching, and the possibility of conflicts between coaching and other leadership styles.
These difficulties can be addressed with the right planning, communication, and training.
The benefits of a coaching leadership style include personal and professional development, better communication, increased motivation, fostering an environment of collaboration, better job performance, and higher employee retention.
To embed coaching leadership into organizational culture, leaders must communicate the value of coaching and provide training and development opportunities.
They should also model coaching behavior and encourage leaders to integrate coaching into their leadership style. Incorporating coaching conversations that create a learning, experimenting, and growth-oriented culture can also help foster coaching leadership.
Coaching leadership is more collaborative and focused on personal development than autocratic leadership, characterized by top-down decision-making and control.
Compared to democratic leadership, which prioritizes participation and input from team members in decision-making, coaching leadership emphasizes building relationships and empowering team members to take ownership of their own growth and development.
Coaching leadership style is becoming more important to create a growth, development, and success culture. By adopting a coaching leadership style, leaders can empower their team members to reach their full potential and build high-performing teams.
At Highrise, we understand the importance of leadership coaching and offer learning and development opportunities for growth-oriented professionals in fast-growing industries. Our programs offer comprehensive leadership training and individual coaching to help leaders develop their skills, build strong teams, and thrive for their organizations.
If you want to improve your leadership coaching style and take your leadership skills to the next level, join Highrise today and begin your journey to success!