13 Tips When Using Coaching As A Leadership Development Tool (2021)

10 min read

You’ve probably noticed it!

Leadership methods that were once effective a decade ago are no longer effective in the modern-day business environment. This is why more companies are moving from a command-and-control leadership model to a coaching model.

As a progressive executive, you’re also looking to shift from direct leadership to coaching as a leadership development tool.

However, you’re unsure of how to do this.

This post is here to help. This article will discuss 13 tips you can employ when using coaching as a leadership development tool.

Here’s what you’ll learn

Let’s get right into it.

What We Mean by Coaching as a Leadership Development Tool

What comes to mind when you hear the word coach in a business context?

You’ll probably think of a consultant hired to help people build their professional and personal skills.

While this is right to a point, it’s not what we mean by coaching as a leadership tool.

The kind of coaching we are talking about is one that people inside the organization execute. In most cases, the manager acts as the coach.

This type of leadership development coaching encourages authentic learning for all employees in the organization.

Using this type of coaching, the manager doesn’t just give answers to problems but instead focuses on asking the right questions to help subordinates find answers for themselves.

Now that you know what we mean by coaching as a leadership development tool, let’s get into why executives need to switch to a coaching model.

Why Shift To A Coaching Model

Shifting from a command-and-control leadership model to one where the leader acts as the coach has several benefits.

One of these is the fact that as the manager, you’re not expected to know everything. Unlike in the direct control model, where the manager is expected to know everything and teach it to subordinates, the coaching model doesn’t expect the leader to have all answers.

The role of the manager in a coaching leadership model is to offer support and guidance.

With this model, employees can better adapt to changing business environments. Using coaching as a leadership development tool also helps foster innovation and commitment.

A coaching leadership model also helps reduce employee turnover rates as employees are likely to feel more valued since managers consult and ask them for feedback.

Now that you know why you should shift to a coaching model, let’s look at the different types of coaching that you can use.

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Different Styles of Coaching

You have the option of four main coaching styles. These are:

Directive Coaching

This type of coaching is similar to mentoring. In a direct leadership development style, an experienced manager shares knowledge with a junior who listens keenly to absorb as much wisdom as possible.

This method is like the command-and-control method. It assumes that the manager knows things that the recipient doesn’t, which leads to maintaining the status quo.

By giving direct instructions, this coaching style doesn’t encourage the development of organizational capacity.

While it may not be the best option for most organizations, a directive coaching style can be used with new employees.

Laissez Faire

Laissez-Faire is a French term that means ‘leave alone.’

And as the name suggests, this coaching method entails leaving employees to figure out things on their own.

If employees are productive and get all their work done perfectly, this is the best management method. If you use an achievement-oriented leadership model, a laissez-faire coaching style is the best to use.

In this coaching style, the manager acts as an observer and doesn’t interfere when employees are working.

Non-Directive Coaching

This type of coaching is where the manager acts as a facilitator.

In this model, managers don’t give employees direct instructions but instead encourage them to ask questions.

An indirect leadership development style involves giving appropriate feedback when needed so that junior employees may learn from mistakes. As a manager who uses this method, you should focus more on listening and withholding judgment.

In this model, the manager doesn’t just rely on their experience and years of accumulated knowledge. Leaders using indirect leadership development draw insights and creativity from juniors.

With this approach, employees are usually highly energized. However, this is the hardest coaching style to use as a leader, especially if you’re used to the command-and-control model.

Situational Coaching

This is the coaching style every manager should aspire to use.

For this style, the coach must find a balance between a directive and non-directive coaching model depending on the needs and situation.

when using coaching as a leadership development tool
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How to Coach for Leadership Development

Start By Discussing the Goal of the Coaching

When coaching for leadership development, the first step should be understanding what the employee’s goals are.

But here’s the tricky part!

For this stage, you don’t ask about their goals in the organization but rather what they hope to accomplish from the coaching session.

So, whenever you start a conversation with a subordinate who has asked for your advice, first ask them what they want to gain from this conversation.

Ask The Right Questions, then Get Out of the Way

With a goal established, now it’s time to ask questions.

With questions, it becomes easier to help employees find solutions to problems. An example of a question you can use for this stage is, “What key things do you need to know?”

Once you ask the question, take time to listen to the answer to figure out what information you need to provide.

In most instances, you’ll find that by asking questions, juniors will view the situation from a different perspective, which leads to them finding answers for themselves.

Review Options

Sometimes employees will come to you to seek help when they are stuck or can’t decide between options.

For such cases, your main job is to help them broaden and deepen their thoughts. Using simple questions such as, “In a utopian world, what would you choose?” makes it easier for the junior to start thinking of fresh ideas.

Once they start finding solutions, you should direct them to explore more about the option through more research.

Evaluating the Next Steps

This step entails helping the employee to figure out their next step.

For this step, you should ask questions such as, “what actions will you take?”

With this question, it becomes easier to know if the previous steps have been successful. If the efforts are successful, the coachee will have a plan of action formulated in their mind.

If there’s no plan, you’ll need to start over the process to ensure the employee finally understands how to attack the issue.

Now that you know how to coach for leadership development, let’s look at how to make your coaching sessions more effective.

when using coaching as a leadership development tool

Tips When Using Coaching as a Leadership Development Tool.

#1. Ask Good Guiding Questions

When coaching, the most essential skill you’ll need is knowing how to ask good guiding questions.

A great question will help your employee think through their goals and come up with solutions on their own. When using this method, remember that when you act as a coach, it’s not about finding answers for them but helping juniors find solutions themselves.

And rather than asking yes or no questions, ask open-ended questions as these are likely to lead to more thoughtful answers.

#2. Listen and Empower

With asking questions, it’s vital to ensure you actively listen to the answers employees provide.

When you actively listen, employees will likely feel more comfortable when they talk to you, making them open up about their thoughts.

Listening to employee input and feedback also shows them that you care, making you more approachable for help.

Active listening also makes it’s easier to understand problems since employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts.

Additionally, when you actively listen, it’s easier to ask good questions that help employees find answers on their own.

Don’t act like a know-it-all when coaching for leadership development but instead, think of yourself as someone who empowers employees and helps them achieve success in their career.

#3. Take a Positive Approach

When coaching, it’s essential to take a positive approach when helping your employees.

A pessimistic tone can discourage people and make them feel like they are incapable of achieving their goals. This will lead to low morale, which is never suitable for business success.

Instead, when using this method, you should encourage employees by giving praise when the situation calls for it and when they come up with their solutions.

People will quickly lose motivation when not given praise or when constantly scolded. However, by taking a positive approach, you’ll keep employees motivated, which leads to success in the long run.

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#4. Coach in the Moment

As a leader, you will be busy and won’t always have the time to schedule a meeting with your employees.

For these cases, it’s important to coach in the moment. When something triggers an employee or when they come up to ask questions about their work, use this opportunity to teach.

And if you’re too busy to teach at the time, set a meeting where you’ll have ample time to ask questions and listen.

Another option for ensuring consistent coaching efforts would be setting up weekly meetings with every employee directly under you. Use these meetings as leadership development coaching sessions.

#5. Understand Their Perspective

When coaching for leadership development, it’s essential to understand the employees’ perspectives when they develop their ideas.

A great way when using this method is by asking questions about why they came up with a specific solution or what triggered them to think of that particular answer.

This will allow you to see if there are any other potential solutions to this problem.

It will also help you when coaching for leadership development as it provides insight into the employee’s thought process, which can be used when helping them achieve their full potential.

Asking questions like this is also likely to make your employees more open about other issues or problems they might have, so keep that in mind when using this tip.

#6. Know Each Individuals Strengths and Weaknesses

When coaching for leadership development, it’s essential to know each employee’s strengths and weaknesses.

By knowing these traits, you’ll help employees come up with ideas based on their strengths.

Furthermore, when understanding everyone’s strengths and weaknesses, it’ll be easier when asking guiding questions as you already know what one is capable of.

Knowing your juniors’ strengths and weaknesses also allows better evaluation of the next steps.

For example, if an idea requires creativity and an employee isn’t that creative, implementing it may be tricky. However, if the employee were creative, it would be easier to discuss the next steps.

#7. Commit to Continous Learning

When coaching for leadership development, you mustn’t be afraid to learn when teaching.

Even when using this method, a good leader must be open to learning something new and apply those skills when coaching their employees.

This will help develop better leaders within your organization as they’ll understand the importance of continuous growth.

Developing a culture of everyday learning is also likely to encourage your employees to do the same, which drives overall organizational growth.

And by keeping an open mind, employees will also be more likely to share new ideas with you.

#8. Recognize What’s Going Well

A great tip when coaching for leadership development is recognizing what’s going well and rewarding the employees accordingly.

This shows them that you’re paying attention to their work, which will make your employees want to keep doing more of it.

Also, when coaching for leadership development, it’s important to recognize when employees go above and beyond or when they come up with a truly innovative idea.

Doing so will encourage them to keep up the innovative spirit.

#9. Talk About the Next Steps

When coaching for leadership development, talk about the next steps when your employee comes up with a solution.

This will encourage them to be proactive when coming up with ideas and solutions, as they’ll know that you’re interested in hearing more of their thoughts which can lead to better results!

And when talking about the next step after implementing an idea, make it clear when you’re expecting them to act or when they should check back.

This will help them get started and avoid any potential roadblocks when implementing solutions.

#10. Know How to Coach Employees At Different Levels

When coaching for leadership development, you must know how to deal with employees at different levels.

How you deal with a novice employee isn’t how you deal with a more experienced individual.

With a new employee, a more direct method of coaching is best. However, with more experienced employees, taking a non-direct approach to coaching is better.

And when coaching for leadership development, when dealing with more experienced employees, it’s essential to make sure that you’re not coming off as condescending, which can be seen negatively.

So, knowing how to coach your employees at different levels will help implement this leadership method and encourage better results!

#11. Set a Goal For Every Conversation

When you sit down for a conversation with an employee, it’s essential to start by setting a goal.

What does the employee expect to gain from the conversation?

Having open-ended conversations when your employees are looking for more guidance can be confusing and unclear.

So, when creating these goals, include what the topics of discussion will be so that there isn’t any confusion or awkwardness when talking.

Having goals for the conversation also means that you and the employee know what to expect from each other. This, in turn, saves time and energy as you have more clarity on both your expectations.

when using coaching as a leadership development tool
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#12. Watch Your Inner Voice

Of all tips in this article, this will be the hardest to implement.

As humans, we are bound to be a bit judgy. Coupled with the fact that you’re a leader, you’re likely to have more biases.

However, when coaching for leadership development, it’s essential to consciously watch and separate your biases from the conversation.

A great tip when coaching employees is to listen and try not to offer any judgment when the employee comes up with an idea.

This will encourage them to open their minds more, which can lead to better results when implementing this leadership approach!

#13. Reframe Conversations

How do you deal with an employee who comes to you and says they don’t think they can do a specific task?

When using coaching as a leadership development tool, you should aim at reframing this conversation. Rather than asking an employee why they feel they can’t do it, reframe the conversation by asking questions such as, “have you already tried it? At what point did you realize you couldn’t do it?”

By reframing the conversation, you move the employee from an I don’t think I can do it mentality to one where you encourage them to think about the problem from a different perspective.

Using Coaching as A Leadership Development Tool: FAQs

In What Ways Does Coaching Contribute to Effective Leadership Development?

When done correctly, coaching can encourage employees to think more proactively about the work they’re doing.

This increases employee engagement and enhances their ability to solve problems when working, which contributes to better results.

How Can the Application of Coaching as a Leadership Tool Improve Unity Performance?

Coaching as a leadership development tool can improve unity performance in a couple of ways.

For starters, employees feel more fulfilled when they’ve been given a voice and when you show that you value their opinions.

Secondly, when you coach for leadership development, it encourages employees to be more open when they come up with ideas.

This can lead to better results when implementing this approach of leadership.

What are the Benefits of Coaching in Leadership?

When using coaching as a leadership development tool, there are many benefits to improving your team.

For starters, when you coach for leadership development, employees feel more empowered and engaged when they can voice their opinions at work.

This leads to employee satisfaction which in turn can lead to happier employees who want to stick around.

Any Further Questions?

There you go.

Thirteen tips to use when using coaching as a leadership development tool.

Which of these tips will you implement in your organization? Which of these tips have you found success with? Do you know of any other suggestions?

Please tell us in the comment section below.

And if you have any questions regarding using coaching as a leadership development tool, please ask in the comment section below.

I’ll be happy to answer any questions asked.

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