In a dynamic exploration of leadership development, ten seasoned coaches, including Executive and Career Coaches, offer their wisdom on cultivating coaching skills. From transforming leaders with coaching to viewing leadership as a platform for growth, these experts provide a roadmap for leaders seeking to empower and guide their teams effectively.
- Transform Leaders with Coaching
- Encourage Teams Through Self-Navigation
- Provide Actionable Feedback for Results
- Foster Growth Mindsets in Leadership
- Master Communication for Effective Coaching
- Make Time to Align Skills with Leadership
- Cultivate Curiosity and Continuous Improvement
- Discover the Right Coaching Method
- Empower Teams Through Coaching
- View Leadership as a Platform for Growth
Transform Leaders with Coaching
Becoming a coach is the best leadership training I can think of because it taught me deep listening, asking powerful questions, storytelling, acknowledgment, enrollment, accountability, and empathy. I see how inspired my team is to do great things when they feel heard, seen, and trusted, which is what coaching has taught me to do.
Recently, I apologized to the team for breaking my company policy by—and this was in my blind spot—making a political statement. If not for my training as a coach, I might never have seen the harm in what I said, much less apologized for it. I was very tempted to let my words blow over.
But my team received the apology so warmly, I could just feel the love! That love permeates the campus and is part of the inspiration that keeps them doing amazing work. I don’t have an MBA, but I wouldn’t trade it for my training as a coach. Without coaching skills, I don’t think we’d be the fast-growing, multi-million-dollar coaching organization we are now.
Encourage Teams Through Self-Navigation
Leadership is like captaining a ship: You must train your crew to navigate their courses. This is where coaching trumps mentoring. Instead of handing out treasure maps, coaching is about guiding with clever questions, like a wise parrot offering hints.
By encouraging your crew to chart their own path, face their sea monsters of mistakes, and discover their treasures, they learn far more. It’s trickier than simply giving answers, sure, and less comfortable.
But remember, true learning sails on the winds of discomfort. Hoist the sails of inquiry and watch your future captains conquer the leadership seas!
Glen Hellman, Executive Coach, University of Maryland – A. James Clark School of Engineering
Provide Actionable Feedback for Results
In an ever-changing business environment, the ability to coach employees is a necessary skill set to develop as a leader. Your goal is to provide the resources and guidance to your employees so they can accomplish their goals, solve problems, and pivot accordingly.
In order to effectively coach them, you must actively listen, observe, and empathize in order to provide actionable feedback that leads to the desired results.
Foster Growth Mindsets in Leadership
Creating a growth mindset and continually looking to develop coaching skills is so important for any leader. I believe that actively seeking opportunities for personal and professional growth is crucial
By engaging in ongoing learning experiences and remaining open to feedback, you can develop and grow, which keeps you motivated and passionate about your role. Encouraging a growth mindset among your team members can create a domino effect.
As a leader, embodying and promoting this mindset creates an environment where learning and improvement are valued, encouraging collaboration, resilience, and a shared commitment to achieving common goals.
Master Communication for Effective Coaching
The beautiful thing about coaching is that it’s all about communication—the ability to convey complex information (techniques, skills, strategies) in a way that a wide array of people can understand and put into action.
For any kind of leader, this skill is not only important for building a strong team; it is imperative. To enhance those skills within yourself, investing in some coaching training or courses would be beneficial.
However, if time, money, or resources are limited, begin by focusing on communicating complex things simply—by using narrative to describe the “why” and giving clear examples—and tuning in to your team and their different learning/listening styles. That will get you a good chunk of the way toward being a better leader.
Make Time to Align Skills with Leadership
A good leader is also a good coach because leading involves providing a sense of direction, leading by example, and being vulnerable, which are all characteristics of a successful coach. These skill sets align with people management, decision-making, influencing others, and delivering feedback.
As an effective career coach and people leader, I see the value and necessity for developing coaching skills in order to effectively lead teams and projects to align with successful organizational outcomes.
My advice is to be open to the idea of coaching (I often find there tends to be resistance and/or it is viewed as professional development or a time constraint) and set aside one hour a week to learn more about how to be an effective coach as a leader.
Maybe it’s listening to a podcast, collaborating with other leaders in the organization to share best practices, reading articles, or following thought leaders and coaches on LinkedIn, etc.
Cultivate Curiosity and Continuous Improvement
As a leader, developing coaching skills isn’t just a nice-to-have—it’s a game-changer. When you can effectively coach your team, you empower individuals to reach their full potential, fostering a culture of continuous improvement. Your team becomes more adaptable, creative, and resilient.
My best advice is to cultivate a culture of curiosity. Encourage your team to ask questions, explore new ideas, and embrace a growth mindset. Curiosity fuels innovation, and when leaders foster an environment where curiosity is celebrated, you’ll see a remarkable boost in both individual and team performance.
Discover the Right Coaching Method
Developing coaching skills is the number one thing a people leader needs. It’s important to understand that leaders can be individual contributors (and lead differently). However, if you are a people leader, coaching effectively is imperative.
A piece of advice is to consider how you prefer to be coached. Share that with your team, and then ask if there are specific things, they need from you in regard to coaching. Being open and transparent will help both sides tremendously.
Empower Teams Through Coaching
Leaders need many skills to be effective at directing and engaging a team. While some skills require leaders to tell people what to do, such as instructing, directing, and clarifying expectations, a leader using coaching skills asks questions, which enables the individual to explore their thinking.
Telling people what to do can be authoritarian, taking away people’s agency. The use of coaching skills, however, helps develop others, demonstrates respect, increases creativity, and reduces stress.
By being curious rather than jumping in to solve the problem for them, a leader can help the individual clarify the problem, determine the real challenge for that individual, and come up with options for a solution.
The individual learns to think critically, which helps develop competence and confidence. It also helps the leader reduce their stress; in that they do not need to come up with all the answers themselves.
Dr. Julie Donley, Executive Coach and Author
View Leadership as a Platform for Growth
In the evolving landscape of leadership, the days of wielding power as a badge are gone. Genuine leadership embodies empowerment, wisdom, and the art of fostering experience. It’s not a position of control but an opportunity to cultivate collaboration, ignite creativity, and drive innovation.
True leaders remain perpetually curious, adept at asking questions, and open to the uncharted realms of creativity and experimentation. Rather than defaulting to advice, genuine leadership recognizes the pivotal coaching moments that guide others.
It’s not about placing oneself above those led but about establishing a foundational, inspirational, and judgment-free zone, allowing others to uncover their unique path toward shared goals for the greater good.