Corporate team dynamics have evolved in a way that has rendered traditional leadership styles largely ineffective. Employees today want to be seen and heard, and they want to make a difference. This is where coaching leadership style proves helpful. This type of coaching puts the ball in the employee’s court, giving them the tools and support they need to be responsible for their performance and growth.
In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of this coaching style, compare it with the conventional method of leadership, and give you actionable steps to implement it in your workplace.
Leadership in a changing workplace
Traditionally, corporate offices have been hierarchical with a clearly defined command and control structure in which more experienced employees wind up in management positions. They would then pass their knowledge and experience to newer employees to accomplish specific tasks.
The pace of our world today has made this system ineffective. This cycle of giving orders and reviewing performance no longer serves a rapidly changing market.
That brings us to our question: What is a leadership coach, and how is such a role relevant? Leaders today give their employees support and guidance instead of just instructions. Their goal here is to provide team members with the tools they require to solve problems by themselves, stay agile, and adapt to the constantly changing demands of their industry. It also empowers managers to participate in the professional development of their team in a way traditional leadership doesn’t.
What is coaching leadership?
Coaching leadership comes from the top. It’s a coaching style that implements guidance, collaboration with employees, and understanding and support from management. Instead of giving orders and expecting obedience, this style focuses on teamwork, listening to employees, and mutual growth.
Effective managers of today approach their leadership roles like a coach. Coaching has many different styles, but within organizations, it’s an ongoing learning process centered around leadership development. Great leaders and good coaches lean into the growth mindset and understand that the learning process never stops.
Characteristics and benefits of coaching leadership
Here are a few ways in which organizations and people can benefit from coaching leadership style:
1. It creates a collaborative environment
When organizations adopt a coaching leadership style, they change the company culture in a positive way. This management style puts teamwork and democratic leadership at its center, forgoing autocratic ways for a more collaborative, creative, and equal work environment.
2. It sets practical goals
When employees are encouraged to discuss ideas and give feedback, they understand processes better and have more to contribute. When team members are personally involved in the planning stages of a project, they are more invested in its success and take ownership of it.
Effective coaching relies on excellent communication skills between all parties. Compared to the command and control method of management, coaching leadership welcomes constructive feedback and employee engagement — all of which takes emotional intelligence and effective communication strategies to execute well.
3. It strengthens relationships
In traditional management, leaders expect employees to follow orders, and the only feedback they get is during periodic performance reviews. Leadership coaching addresses this lack of constructive criticism and collaborative problem-solving and helps employees assert themselves in the office.
With this level of empowerment and self-awareness, employees don’t need managers to direct them every step of the way. Micro-management will become a thing of the past if leaders learn to step back and let their employees take the reins while providing background support only when needed.
4. It encourages learning
A switch from the traditional management style to coaching leadership is a significant change and shouldn’t be implemented overnight. View it as a slow transformational leadership process focusing on development goals and consistent improvement.
For employees, hitting performance goals may be critical in the short term. But, managers must encourage more experienced team members to work on their skills and empower them to become leaders too. Managers get to improve their mentoring and coaching skills and become effective leaders.
How to implement coaching leadership
Now that we understand the benefits of adopting a more flexible and employee-focused management style, let’s explore how to put this idea into practice. Here are five actionable tips for implementing the coaching leadership style in your office:
- Communicate and listen to your team: Employees have a valuable perspective and understand the unique challenges of the projects they’re involved in. So, ask them. By asking open-ended questions, you can get to the heart of the matter and determine what support they need to function optimally. Here are some questions to ask:
- What are your needs?
- What do you want in a leader?
- What problems are you currently facing with this project?
- What kind of support do you require?
- Take action: Once you recognize a need, set realistic goals and deadlines. Understanding what resources are available, the pace of a project, and the skills of team members involved will help you set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals.
Setting a firm deadline also allows everyone to work backward from the date of completion to create a roadmap and identify milestones and small wins.
- Encourage constant feedback: The best coaching leaders know that they’re not infallible — it’s important to seek different perspectives and hear fellow team members out when they have concerns. As individuals, we all have our competencies and points of view. In the coaching process, we must help employees voice their concerns and address areas of opportunity we might have previously missed.
- Accept mistakes and look for solutions: In a high-pressure work environment, occasional mistakes are inevitable. To deal with these situations most effectively, don’t point fingers or dwell on the problem — focus on finding solutions. If you’re stuck, ask team members to look for areas of improvement.
- Recognize achievements and aim higher: Great managers believe in their employees and know they can become their best selves with guidance and support. When team members perform well, don’t be shy in highlighting the wins and giving praise. This recognition will incentivize good work and create a springboard for visualizing even more ambitious achievements in the future.
For companies today, coaching leadership development is imperative. Adopting a more employee-focused leadership style helps the company culture. With this leadership style, managers can empower team members to take responsibility for their performance and growth.
At Practice, we’re all about collaboration and open communication. Try our all-in-one client management system today to get your whole team on the same page.