Leadership Coaching: What Is It & Do You Need It?

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Engaged Leadership

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Hopefully, most of us know what it's like to work under a great leader. Conversely, almost all of us know what it’s like to work under one who could be great, but hasn’t reached their full potential. The thing is, leadership is an acquired skill. Just like any other profession or hobby, becoming a great leader requires focus, time and practice. There isn’t a one size fits all approach to leadership either -- everyone has to learn and grow based on their own skills, style and in a way that fits with their particular industry.

From a shift lead to CEO of a company, every leadership role presents its own unique obstacles. The vast majority of leaders have their most difficult challenges transitioning from “doing the work” to guiding people through the work. That’s where leadership coaching comes in as one of the most significant and beneficial tools a company can give to its employees that are trying to hone their skills and develop as leaders

What is a leadership coach?

Leadership coaching is a uniquely crafted service that provides leaders with the tools to learn, grow and excel in their management roles.

A skilled Coach will ensure that workplace leaders avoid the demotivation and missed goals that untrained and unsupported managers often experience. A Coach helps leaders at all levels in any part of the company develop their emotional intelligence, their observation and thinking skills as well as their day-to-day practical management skills so they can lead with greater success. A third-party coach acts as observer, sounding board, mentor and counselor to developing leaders. They observe interactions, gather and deliver feedback to the leader which in turn helps the leader develop the skills, perspective and competencies that can be implemented for ongoing leadership success. 

5 Benefits of leadership coaching 

Leaders are responsible for providing clarity to their team about where to devote their time and how to measure success. Companies often intellectually recognize the value of third-party coaching but too often conclude that an internal manager or mentor can help fill the role of an outside coach. While that choice might look appealing from a short-term budget standpoint it has significant drawbacks.

First, the internal manager isn’t trained as a leadership coach. Second, they are an internal resource that directly represents the company’s management, and no matter what they might say, few employees are completely open and honest with their fears, weaknesses, and struggles when they know the anonymity of that sharing is not guaranteed. 

The role of a third-party leadership coach is to observe, evaluate, and help developing leaders implement leadership solutions. In-house leaders may be able to share skills they have picked up, but they will struggle to interact with an unbiased, trustworthy and neutral perspective.  

Further, an outside voice can: 

1. Ask the right questions

A third-party expert knows how to ask clear questions that create awareness and encourage communication.

2. Observe objectively 

One of the most beneficial things a company can do is allow their leadership coach to shadow the leader interacting with team members, in their workplace. This allows the coach to gain a crystal clear understanding of leadership and workplace dynamics in a way that a company employee who is not a trained observer and feedback provider couldn't.

3. Provide understanding

A good coach will create an atmosphere of trust, openness and a shared focus on growing and excelling as they interact with their Coachee. Many leaders feel like they’re the only ones facing their particular struggles and pain points. When they work with a coach who has met hundreds of leaders just like them they can provide a reassuring space in which to explore new approaches to leading successfully.

4. Build trust within the company 

When the leader’s team sees that they are working to grow and improve their leadership, it has a ripple effect of encouragement for their leader and confidence in the organization’s leadership to constantly improve the workplace and employees skills. .

5. Create space for confrontation and conflict 

Leadership coaches also serve as facilitators - they aren’t scared of conflict and they know how to deliver messages in a way that keeps tricky situations from escalating. They help leaders see the opportunities for growth and success that are available when struggles and even failures occur. 

Should I get a Leadership coach? 

If you are a leader, manage leaders, or know that you have the potential to move into a leadership role in the future, leadership coaching will be invaluable to you and your company. 

As a leader, there is nothing that will give you more clarity and confidence than learning how to ensure you are aligned with your team. Learning how to drive results and encourage increased accountability yet lead without micromanaging is deeply rewarding and satisfying.
As a future leader, participating in leadership coaching now rather than later is vitally important for your long-term success. It's easy to assume that upper management leadership transitions are the most difficult because tasks and responsibilities become more complex. The truth is that the first transition a new leader ever makes - from marketer to marketing director, for example - is the most challenging shift an aspiring leader often makes. Leadership coaching, when it is most effective, is provided early on. It is proactive to support success, not reactive to struggles and failure. Your current and future leaders need the support that will help them be more successful today. 

How do you choose the right leadership coaching program?

Choosing a leadership coaching program should be and is an important and weighty decision, just like choosing who your leaders will be. Leadership coaching programs have enormous variations and are designed to  serve leaders in every industry imaginable. 

It is very important to align the experience of your leadership coach and the design of the leadership development program not only to the industry but also to the experience and role of the leader. Find a coach who has a track record of success with many leaders in similar circumstances.

Second, ensure that your leadership coaching program not only considers but actively focuses on the cognitive, mindset aspect of leadership development and maturity. Skills improvement is important and virtually every program out there focuses most of its attention on improving those “meat and potato” skills. Your leader can have all the technical skills in the world, but without a proper mindset and ways of thinking about their work goals and the people they lead, their leadership will rarely deliver the results businesses intend and need.

That’s why finding a partner you can trust is so important.

If you’re ready for your company’s leaders to experience confidence and clarity in their leadership, schedule a call with EngagedLeadership today. And in the meantime, download our free guide “5 Tips to Avoid Wasting Money on Leadership Development” to learn even more about why investing in quality leadership coaching is so important. 

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