Coaching Leadership

November 5, 2018 — Leave a comment

Sure we all think that we coach employees, as we tell them how to do something, and then don’t follow up with them. Typically, managers believe that they are coaching employees, but when employees are asked if their leaders coach them, they respond no.

Is it because we just don’t know what the definition of a coaching leader is? It gets confused with some of the other ways we helps people improve. None of them are bad, they are used for specific situations and individuals,

A coach is not just a …

  • counselor, who can be helpful to an individual that is struggling with current or past events that prevent them from achieving a functioning way of life.
  • teacher, who uses an assigned curriculum to help individuals to learn a specific task or content, and then test them on it.
  • trainer, who helps individuals learn new behaviors, method, system or skill.
  • consultant, who evaluates an organization and recommends improvements to increase efficiencies and/or productivity.
  • mentor, who shares what they know with an individual to help that person get to the next step in what there are trying to achieve.

Daniel Harkavy in Becoming a Coaching Leader states that a coach’s ultimate purpose is helping others to succeed, so they may need to use all of the different skills listed above at one time or another. But ultimately, a coach helps others assess their current situation and where they want to be in the future, whether that’s to make more money, improve their relationships, or improve their health. A coach inspires individuals to discover the knowledge and strategies they need, and then develop an action plan to achieve it. And most important, holds them accountable for the goals they’ve set for themselves so that they can achieve their goals and achieve success.

In The Extraordinary Coach, John H. Zenker and Kathleen Stinnett state that successful coaching begins with a relationship with the individual, and a desire to connect with the person. This may be one reason some leaders struggle to successfully coach their employees, they need to make the person feel comfortable and build trust, and some employees struggle to build a professional relationship with their leader. Coaches need to be fully present, listen and focus on what is best for the individual, not the organization or their own personal agenda.

As with all types of leadership, we can adopt the right type to the right employee during the right situation. That’s why being a coaching leader is so effective, and sounds like situational leadership.

So how do you become a better coaching leader? Here’s a list from a number of different resources;

  • A coaching leader needs to be able to build professional relationships built on trust, honesty, and credibility with employees.
  • Maintain a positive attitude, have more confidence/faith in the person then they have in themselves.
  • Know when to pull someone back from the edge of the cliff (pushing themselves to far), to pushing them off the cliff so that they can get out of their comfort zone.          
  • Be an example, you need to make sure you’re a positive example, do you show up on time, do you keep your commitments, do you maintain a professional demeanor?
  • Listen, but not only just listen to what they are saying, listen for how they are feeling. Emotions control what we think and do, it makes us react in a positive, or negative way. Don’t be afraid of silence, give them time to think, and don’t interrupt.
  • Ask open ended questions, be curious and help the individual explore their own answers.

Specific – The performance expectation should be one that can be witnessed or observed, defined, and concrete.

Measurable – You should be able to assess, evaluate, and distinguish between different performance levels. The end result can be identified in terms of quantity, quality, timelines, acceptable standards, or procedures. Many say the work they do is not measurable. But if it is not measurable, how do they know if a goal has been met and if their contributions have value? Definitive results can be identified for all work.

Achievable – Each performance expectation should be one that can be achieved by the employee without barriers that hinder its completion. However, it should not be so easily achieved that the employee is not challenged nor so difficult that the employee becomes frustrated. It should be reasonable.

Realistic – Each expectation should be an actual requirement of the employee’s job and with in the parameters of the position description.
Time Bound – Each expectation should have a time frame associated with it – daily, weekly, etc.

A coaching leader helps their employees set goals that are;

  • When helping employees establish goals, consider the following points:
  • Don’t establish more than three to five goals to be accomplished during the coaching period.
  • Jointly establish the goals with your employee.
  • When possible, make the goal measurable. But remember, some things cannot be measured.
  • Tailor the goal to the needs of the individual. Some employees love a challenge and are galvanized to action by a goal that causes them to stretch. Others are immobilized by that same approach, they need goals that are obtainable.
  • Be willing to adjust goals (and timelines) that turn out to be unrealistic. If business conditions change or priorities are shifted be willing to renegotiate the goal.
  • Identify what support or assistance the employee will require from you.
  • Establish review dates AND FOLLOW-UP!

Hold them accountable, but let them outline their own action plans and timelines, unless it impacts the organizations own standards or performance metrics.

Coaching can cover any number of issues, here’s an example;

  • During succession planning and career development decisions
  • To improve interpersonal or communication skills
  • Professional and personal development
  • To manage “difficult” people and to develop “superstar” workers
  • Manage a healthy work/life balance
  • When there is a need to develop a more effective leadership style or manner
  • Increase employees engagement
  • How to deal with difficult people and develop conflict-management skills
  • Increase an employee’s self-confidence, assertiveness and well-being

Coaching is a powerful improvement and relationship building style that leaders can use with not only their employees, but peers and others outside of work. Find an accountability partner, someone wants to be coached, but also wants to coach you. Ask each other questions, stay positive and optimistic, help them realize their passion, and develop a plan to live it.

If you would like to experience a coaching session, contact me and we can meet to discuss what you’re passionate about and how you can start to move toward living the life you want to live.


Becoming a Coaching Leader, Daniel Harkavy

The Extraordinary Coach, John Zenger & Kathleen Stinnett

Most Managers Don’t Know How to Coach People.” But They Can Learn. Julia Milner & Trenton Milner

August 14, 2018, Harvard Business Review

How Peer Coaching Can Make Work Less Lonely,” Norian Caporale-Berkowitz & Stewart D. Friedman

October 12, 2018, Harvard Business Review

How to Get Your Team to Coach Each Other,” Stewart D. Friedman, March 13, 2015, Harvard Business Review

Coaching Leadership Quotes:

 “A manager is a title, it does not guarantee success. Coaching is an action, not a title and actions will result in successes!” ~ Catherine Pulsifer

“Leaders empower individuals by building trust and coaching competence in their job roles and networking skills.” ~ Kenneth H. Blanchard

“Coaches are aware of how to ignite passion and motivate people. They have an energy that is contagious and know exactly how to get their team excited.” ~ Brian Cagneey

“Leadership is a matter of having people look at you and gain confidence, seeing how you react. If you’re in control, they’re in control.” ~ Tom Landry

“Good human-relations skills have the ability to change people from managing others to leading others.” ~ John Rampey

“I realized that life had much more to offer than I had anticipated and decided to help others in their human journey. Thus, I become a trainer and a coach with passion for transformation.” ~ Ann Betz

“People don’t only use a coach when there is a problem with their technique; they understand that no matter how good their technique is, there is always room for improvement.” ~ John Perry

“As coaches, we equip people to be in touch with their best selves.” ~ Clyde Lowstuter

“So while the complexities change, the work of coaching stays the same keep your clients at the center of the work, push them to use their strengths more and to temper their weaknesses, and illuminate blind spots because these are what really get in the way.” ~ Stacy Feiner

“The best coaches know what the end result looks like, whether it’s an offensive play, a defensive play, a defensive coverage, or just some idea of the organization.” ~ Vince Lombardi

“Good coaching is good teaching and nothing else.” ~ Pat Conroy

“Everything in coaching hinges on listening because what we are listening for affects where we are speaking from and unfolds how we are being with and for each other.” ~ Marilyn Atkinson

“What I learned is that if a coach lacks sufficient persistence, he will be unable to complete the critical task of finding growth opportunities out of adversity.” ~ Seth Davis

“A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment.” ~ John Wooden

“When it comes to getting the best out of life – whether in your own life or from your team, there is no doubt that good coaching can play a pivotal role. Getting it right is about learning how to motivate yourself and others in a way that works. It means listening to yourself and others rather than just speaking at them. The good coach knows that they may not have all the answers.” ~ Steve Gold

“As a life design coach, I am passionate about changing lives . . . I’ve learned through my own self-discovery work that sharing authentically is the best way to make a real difference in others’ lives.” ~ Julie Reisler

“Coaching ….works to change a person’s life for the better ….”  ~ Ian Berry

“Coaching is a unique process of human development, one that works to change a person’s life for the better and help him/her achieve a number of specific objectives.” ~ Ian Berry

“Now, coaching is basically like what it is, it is someone that you have that is working with another person to help the other person’s goal.” ~ Randy Wayne

“The power of coaching is this – you are expected to give people the path to find answers, not the answers.” ~ Tom Mahalo

“Successful coaches are visionaries. They have a picture of success set in their minds.” ~ Gavin McGinnis

“An evolutionary coach needs to instill five qualities in their clients to support them on the journey to full self-realization – adaptability, emergent learning, the ability to bond, the ability to cooperate and the ability to manage complexity.” ~ Richard Barrett

“I played catcher on the baseball team – a leadership position. But during those years that I was busy being a leader at my high school, I never thought about what it meant to be a leader. What’s more, no adult ever mentored, taught, or coached me in the practice and principles of leadership.” ~ Pat Williams

“A good coach can change a game. A great coach can change a life.” ~ John Wooden

“Life is constantly bringing us challenges and opportunities. When we have the courage to step up to the challenges and seize the opportunities we move forward. As a coach, you can help others make this kind of progress.” ~ Kathryn McElveen

“Coaches in the office do not teach accountants how to balance ledger books, and they do not aim to teach secretaries how to use letter heads – no. Rather, they have a way of beginning a sort of informal conversation between them and the employees, where they get to appreciate the prevailing challenges.” ~ I. Madison

“A good coach passes on information quickly. They do not hold back information that affects my job.” ~ Byron and Catherine Pulsifer

“As their coach, your job is to set the bar high, inspire them to reach this bar, encourage them, and most of all, guide them in the best possible manner and in the most supportive environment.” ~ John Popovich

“In a coaching role, you ask the questions and rely more on your staff, who become the experts, to provide the information.” ~ Byron and Catherine Pulsifer

“Coaching is 90% attitude and 10% technique.” ~ Author Unknown

“Coaches and the people they coach know that for the future to be different, we need to change the way we do things in the present…. More often, changes involve shifts in attitudes, thinking, perceptions, and behavior.” ~ Gary Collins

“The actual awareness that the person opposite you is an entire world and isn’t lacking anything, and that you yourself are an entire world, allows you to coach him and to think about him in a positive way, from a place of reality and abundance.” ~ Benny Gal

“Coaches have to watch for what they don’t want to see and listen to what they don’t want to hear.” ~ John Madden

“I never cease to be amazed at the power of the coaching process to draw out the skills or talent that was previously hidden within an individual, and which invariably finds a way to solve a problem previously thought unsolvable.” ~ John Russell

“Team coaches can help teams to improve how they manage their collective emotional well-being and learn how to moderate their responses to success and setbacks.” ~ Peter Hawkins

“Make sure that team members know they are working with you, not for you.” ~ John Wooden

“The best teacher is the one who suggests rather than dogmatizes and inspires his listener with the wish to teach himself.” ~ Edward Bulwer-Lytton

“Probably my best quality as a coach is that I ask a lot of challenging questions and let the person come up with the answer.” ~ Phil Dixon

“A good coach will make his players see what they can be rather than what they are.” ~ Ara Parasheghian

“Make no mistake, as you change your leadership style to one of a coach you will face challenges. There will be times when you question why am I doing this. However, you must at all times keep the long term benefits of being a coach at the forefront of your mind.” ~ Byron and Catherine Pulsifer

“People will exceed targets they set themselves.” ~ Gordon Dryden

“The test of a good coach is that when they leave, others will carry on successfully.” ~ Author Unknown

“Coaching might have stayed in the realm of sports and entertainment had it not moved into the corporate world a few decades ago. Faced with the unsettling impact of galloping change, rapid technological advances, and tidal waves of information glut, business leaders began to see that no one person could keep abreast of everything.” ~ Gary Collins

“The manager needs to have a coaching mindset, looking for opportunities to help others learn.” ~ James M. Hunt

“The manager needs to have a coaching mindset, looking for opportunities to help others learn…. The coach and coachee relationship must be one that rests on a foundation of trust that can allow the coaching dialogue to take place.” ~ James M. Hunt

“I realized that life had much more to offer than I had anticipated and decided to help others in their human journey. Thus, I become a trainer and a coach with passion for transformation.” ~ Ann Betz, Coaching the Spirit

“You get the best effort from others not by lighting a fire beneath them, but by building a fire within.” ~ Bob Nelson

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