This article is part of The Ascender, the Highrise platform for articles and resources.

Who Is a Leadership Development Coach and How Can They Help Leaders?

Andrew Langat
December 6, 2023
A leadership development coach conducting a training session on business growth strategies with a flip chart in front of an engaged audience.
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There is always room to learn for any leader, including senior executives. This is because leadership is complex regardless of leadership style and no individual leader has it all. Successful leaders like Bill Gates, Ophrah Winfrey, and Marc Benioff understand this and are known to use the services of an executive coach.

For any leader, leadership development programs go a long way in imparting new skills to facilitate desired outcomes. This can range from learning how to create psychological safety in their team, business transformation, or even how to identify blind spots that not only benefit them but can bring desired changes in the entire organization.

One way is by working with a leadership development coach.

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Who is a Leadership Development Coach?

A leadership development coach helps leaders develop and enhance their leadership skills. They work with and support leaders at all levels, from new managers to emerging leaders to CEOs to realize desired leadership outcomes.

A leadership development coach can work with individual leaders on a one-on-one basis or via virtual coaching sessions.

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How a Leadership Development Coach Helps Leaders

Through leadership development coaching, a leader can:

1. Understand and Improve Self-Awareness

Having Self-awareness is a core element of personal development. When we truly understand who we are, we become better leaders enabling us to lead with confidence.

A leadership development coach, helps leaders understand and improve on the two types of self-awareness i.e. internal self-awareness and external self-awareness.

Once this is achieved, a leader can improve core leadership competencies leading to authentic leadership. This not only benefits, leaders as individuals, but also, the organizations they lead and business results that can reflect in the bottom line.

2. Understand Goal Setting and How to Use It Effectively

A leadership development coach can be a valuable asset in helping a leader identify, set, and achieve leadership goals. They do this through guidance and support and by identifying strengths and weaknesses. This can enable a leader to:

Set clear goals. For example, what do you want to achieve as a leader? What are your long-term and short-term goals?

Be open to feedback. Being open to feedback directly impacts business performance and goal setting. A leader will strive to make feedback a commonplace occurrence that paves the way for two-road feedback for all key stakeholders.

3. Understand How to Master Communication Skills

For optimum team performance and to improve productivity, a leader must master communication skills. Leadership development coaching will assist in achieving this objective in the following ways:

Help leaders to identify and avoid communication pitfalls. For example, a coach can help leaders identify and avoid using jargon language when communicating with a non-technical audience.

Improve conflict resolution skills. A coach can help leaders develop the communication skills they need to resolve conflict constructively and productively.

Master nonverbal communication skills. A leader should always understand that their communication — verbal and non-verbal— is closely watched. The latter is usually more powerful in conveying emotions. This includes how to use and read body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice.

4. Master Emotional Intelligence

Through emotional intelligence coaching, you will be able to recognize, understand, and manage your emotions which you will then apply to your day-to-day leadership role. In the coaching sessions, you will be able to master:

Self-awareness & self-regulation: your leadership coach will enable you to identify and understand emotional triggers. This can be done via leadership assessment tools to give you insights into your emotional well-being. For example, if you tend to get nervous during team meetings, your coach will enable you to recognize this pattern and how to self-regulate.

Understanding of empathy: Through role-playing or reviewing case studies, your coach will enable you to define and understand empathy and how to use it to understand others' emotions and improve interpersonal skills.

Enhancing social skills: As a leader, understanding and enhancing the usage of social skills is important in ensuring effective team dynamics. For example, your coach can teach you how to facilitate an effective work retreat by creating scenarios that require an understanding of social skills such as problem-solving activities or cooperation to realize team objectives.

5. How to Nurture Team Development

One of the cornerstones of leadership development coaching is teaching how you are developing leaders who can nurture team development. This can be achieved through coaching sessions on how to establish:

Team-building activities: the coach can advise on how to create effective team-building activities that enhance collaboration, trust, and communication.

How to give feedback: Giving actionable and constructive feedback gives room for growth. Your coach can go through various feedback mechanisms such as the start, stop continue feedback with you and teach you how to give feedback and motivate your team members.

Conflict management skills: Through role-playing difficult situations, your coach can teach you how to effectively manage conflicts. This can be through actions such as learning how to identify triggers, active listening, and de-escalation techniques.

6. Teach Adaptability

Leadership coaching sessions will teach adaptability in the following ways:

Teach self-assessment techniques: A coach and coaching conversations should enable a leader to assess among other things: the effectiveness of their leadership style, and how to analyse past actions and results. For example, the coach will help the leader identify past actions that enabled them to overcome a difficult situation and how this can be incorporated into other scenarios to improve performance.

Teach about growth mindset: By cultivating a growth mindset a leader will be able to see challenges as an opportunity for growth-accelerated learning. This way, they become adaptable and will adapt to efficient processes.

Scenario-based training: by creating interactive learning experiences, a leadership coach can impart specific skills that can be applied in real-life experiences such as change management, conflict resolution, and innovation.

7. Refine Strategic Thinking

One of the most important roles of a business coach for a leader is setting a strategic plan via strategic thinking. When this is achieved it becomes easier to make clear decisions that can be communicated to relevant stakeholders. By working with a coach, a leader will be able to:

Identify the strengths and weaknesses in their strategic thinking skills. For example, long-term thinking can be viewed as a strength, while aversion to risk-taking can be a weakness

Make it easy to set clear goals. Setting SMART goals that tie to the organizational vision business goals and mission.

Incorporate system thinking in decision-making. This entails making decisions by looking at the bigger picture. For example, "How will this decision I'm about to take affect different departments?"

8. Improve Confidence and Self-Esteem

Working with a leadership development coach to improve confidence and self-esteem is akin to working with a personal trainer. Just like how your trainer will assist you in growing your physical stamina, your coach will enable you to boost your emotional and mental strength in the following ways:

Enhancing self-awareness: Coaches can assist in building greater self-awareness, which, in turn, contributes to confidence. A better understanding of oneself and one's positive impact on others empowers individuals to make informed choices that enhance self-esteem.

Acknowledging Achievements: Coaches encourage individuals to celebrate their successes, no matter how minor. This practice reinforces positive self-esteem. For instance, celebrating the completion of a successful project can substantially enhance confidence.

Overcoming Leadership Hurdles: Coaches work closely with individuals to develop leaders to overcome leadership challenges, such as conflict resolution or effective decision-making. Success in navigating these challenges boosts self-confidence.

9. Manage Work-Life Balance

Engaging a leadership coach can be instrumental in effectively managing work-life balance, and offering personalized strategies and guidance. Here are some relevant examples:

Prioritizing Tasks: A leadership coach can help an individual prioritize tasks and responsibilities in both their professional and personal life. For instance, a leader may be coached to identify critical work-related tasks and important family commitments, ensuring that time and energy are allocated to what truly matters.

Setting Boundaries: Coaches assist in establishing clear boundaries between work and personal life. An example could be a leader learning to turn off work-related notifications during dedicated family time, allowing for a healthier work-life balance.

Delegation and Time Management: Coaches provide tools for effective delegation and time management. A leader may learn to delegate tasks at work and within the family, optimizing their time and reducing stress.

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6 Qualities to Look For in a Leadership Development Coach

1. Proven Experience

Proven experience is an essential trait for a leadership development coach. An experienced leadership pipeline coach does not only identify performance issues but can draw from best practices and experience in coming up with effective strategies in a coaching process.

Some of the key elements of the pointers that can assist further in coach selection include: Does this coach have specific references and testimonials? How long has the coach worked in a personal development program? Does the coach have experience working with a particular leadership assessment tool that you need to master?

Moreover, experience brings the following: credibility, trust, the ability to identify blind spots, the ability to hold leaders — including senior leaders —accountable a deep understanding of complex issues.

2. Excellent Communication Skills

Leadership coaching services go hand-in-hand with excellent communication. This is because a cause need to use a variety of communication skills during their leadership coaching engagement sessions such as actively listening, asking question, providing feedback, and clarifying action plans.

Excellent communication skills establish trust and create a safe and open environment where the coaches can truly be vulnerable in identifying problems, hence creating a framework for improvement of self-awareness and growth.

3. Understanding of Empathy and Application

A good leadership development coach understands empathy and its application for several important reasons:

Building Trust and Rapport: Empathy is the foundation of trust and rapport in a coaching relationship. When a coach demonstrates empathy, the leader being coached feels understood and valued, creating a safe and supportive environment. This trust allows for open and honest communication.

Supporting Emotional Intelligence: Empathy is a key component of emotional intelligence (EQ). A coach who understands and applies empathy can help leaders enhance their EQ, which is essential for effective leadership and interpersonal relationships.

Enhancing Cultural Sensitivity: In today's diverse workplace, understanding and applying empathy is vital for fostering cultural sensitivity and inclusivity. A coach who possesses empathy can help leaders develop these crucial skills.

4. Adaptable

A leadership coach should be adaptable in a leadership development process for several reasons:

No two leaders are the same. Leaders have different strengths, weaknesses, styles, and goals. An adaptable coach can tailor their approach to meet the individual needs of each leader.

The world is constantly changing. The business environment is constantly evolving, and business challenges and leaders need to be able to adapt to change. An adaptable coach can help leaders develop the skills they need to be successful in a changing world.

Leadership development is a journey, not a destination. Leaders are constantly learning and growing. An adaptable coach can support leaders throughout their development journey.

5. Honest and Credibility

The effective coaching and relationship relies heavily on honesty and credibility. Where the coachee looks forward to the coach for support and guidance toward the path of growth. When this is absent, the relationship can quickly go south. Here are more reasons why honesty and credibility matters:

Coaching is a process of self-discovery and change, and leaders need to feel safe and comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings with their coach. They need full assurances that they will not be taken advantage of when they are vulnerable.

Honest and credible coaches are more likely to be seen as role models. This is because leaders look to coaches for guidance and support, and they are more likely to be influenced by someone they respect and admire.

It becomes easier to challenge leaders so as to accelerate learning and attain coaching goals. Honest and credible coaches are not afraid to challenge leaders to think differently and to consider new perspectives. This can help leaders break out of their comfort zones and reach their full potential.

6. Appreciate the Importance of Continuous Learning and Personal Growth

Getting to work with a leadership coach who prioritizes continuous learning and personal growth will be beneficial in the following ways:

  • The coach will be updated on the latest trends and research in leadership development. This allows them to deliver coaching session that uses the latest best practices.
  • They will challenge the coachee to think outside the box and to consider new perspectives. This can help clients to break out of their comfort zones and to reach their full potential.
  • They inspire commitment to learning and growth inspiring the coaches to follow the same path.
  • Leadership coaches who are committed to continuous learning are more likely to be able to build a successful coaching practice and access more opportunities such as executive coaching. Moreover, clients will likely work with a coach who is seen as ambitious.
Inspiring, isn’t it ? Want to learn more about connecting self-awareness to professional development? Get in touch today.

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Trust Highrise Leadership Development Coach to Make You a Better Leader

Leadership has often been equated with a journey. It can be a lonely and frustrating journey if one is not adequately prepared. A leadership development coaching program can impart the right leadership skills to maximize performance. This is where Highrise Leadership Coaching Services can help.

Our world-class coaches will ensure that you not only improve your performance as part of your ongoing executive coaching, and professional development but also improve your core leadership competencies.

Join our community of growth-minded professionals today and gain a significant competitive advantage in your career ladder.

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Andrew Langat
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Andrew Langat is an experienced content specialist in Leadership, Productivity, Education, Fintech, and Research. He is an avid reader and loves swimming as a hobby. He believes that quality content should be actionable and helpful.