The Ultimate Guide To Coaching As A Leader

How to Work with Powerful Coaching Skills to Create Exponential Growth, Success, and Satisfaction as a Business Leader

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3 cartoon individuals working and celebrating success
story about a young cherokee's rite of passage

The moral of this story? Someone is always watching out for us -- our family and friends are looking out for us -- and we all have someone we can lean on in times of trouble.

This can give us the courage we need to get through difficult times.

And the same happens when you're coaching as a leader.

The reason this story is important and impactful in the context of business is that if you’re a leader and you demonstrate that you’re always there to support your team…

When you show them they are never truly alone and you’re there to guide them, you’ll build a deep relationship and bond that has the power to override difficult times.

Your team members will have the courage to successfully navigate challenges and problems or any kind of business hardship.

why coaching skills are important

The strongest teams are the ones that are forged in friendship and trust, and this can happen when you see your role as more than a guide, more than, a mentor and more than a leader…

It happens when you see your role as a coach.

Right now, you might be thinking, “I’m not a trained coach! How in the world am I going to do this!”

Here’s the thing…

Whether you’re a CEO, manager, or entrepreneur you can learn to lead as a coach.

You can learn to become the kind of leader that motivates people to rise up and achieve their potential, then move beyond to a whole new level of productivity, creativity, dedication and confidence.

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Plus, everything you’re about to learn in this Ultimate Guide is also perfect for you if you are a coach who loves working with business leaders inside an organization or in the capacity of a consultant-coach.

By the end of this Guide, you’re going to discover exactly what coaching as a leader means. You’ll learn the skills and qualities you must cultivate if you want to integrate coaching skills into your leadership or if you want to work with business leaders as a coach.

This Guide also includes the exact framework and questions you can use to become an incredibly skilled, respected and results-driven leader, but in a way that is supportive, expansive, and deeply inspiring to your team members.

The Guide is designed and updated keeping in mind the implications for coaching leaders from the changes brought on by the latest developments in the professional sphere, factoring in the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sounds good? Thought you’d say that! Let’s dive in…

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What Is Coaching As A Leader?

Since the early part of the 20th century, managers, CEOs and other business leaders were asked to lead as trailblazers, groundbreakers and frontrunners.

They were expected to know what to do and when, and then direct and instruct their employees and team members from a metaphorical “pedestal.”

It was a top down leadership approach and it worked for years, even decades.

As we continue to drive deeper into the 21st century, as businesses become more flexible and borderless with team members who come together from diverse backgrounds, cultures and nationalities, the core nature of leadership and what it means to be a great leader is no longer what it used to be.

However, things have changed.

It is no longer enough to be the “head of the pack” and it’s no longer about being the smartest in the room or even the most innovative and creative. 

The 2020 pandemic saw many people realign their priorities, aims, and ambitions. In this changing climate that kickstarted this new decade of virtual meetings and work-from-home, the concept of division and hierarchy among team members are drastically disappearing. And, with it changes the definition of who a coaching leader is.

To keep up with the times and the trend, the coaching leadership style requires a change as well. In the post-pandemic climate, empathy and adaptability take the front seat as the focal points in the development of coaching skills for leaders.

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Coaching as a leader can create transformational change, plus massive positive outcomes for your organization whether that’s a 2-person company or one that has thousands of employees.

Leaders who coach are defined by their focus on collaboration and understanding while traditional leaders are focused on control.

4 benefits of coaching as a leader
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“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires”

William Arthur Ward

And the same is true for leaders who coach.

The world’s best business leaders understand that when you get to the heart of it, a company, organization or business is only as strong as the weakest team member.

Leaders who coach can ensure everyone in the organization is operating at their highest potential and in a way that is aligned with their personal values and purpose.

These are the leaders who are at the top of their game.

So if you want to play a bigger game, if you want to guide your company or organization or business to greater heights…

If you want to become the best leader you can be to your team members and employees, there’s no way around it…

Coaching is a must-have skill.

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The following questions will help you gain clarity on your current leadership skills, your purpose as a leader, and your higher vision for your company and team members.

Question #1

What are your current strengths as a leader?
(eg: integrity, reliability, strategic thinking)

Question #2

What are 1 to 3 areas where you can improve as a leader?
(eg: communication, motivation, problem-solving skills, etc)

Question #3

Why do you want to level-up your leadership skills with coaching skills?
(eg: you want your business or company to serve the world at a higher level, you want to inspire and motivate people to achieve their potential, etc)

Question #4

Where do you see your company or organization 1, 3 and 5 years from now? What is the level of growth and expansion you want to achieve?

Question #5

What is your biggest vision – your wildest dream – for your company or organization?

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Integrating Coaching Into
Your Leadership Style

Now that you know the benefits and the “why” behind adopting and adapting to coaching as a leader, it’s time to take a closer look at the qualities you need in order to cultivate and sharpen your coaching skills in the context of business leadership.

6 qualities of coaching as a leader
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Quality #1

Other Orientation

Coaching is about the other person – in this case, your team member – and not about your personal goals or even your company values.So when you interact with team members, set aside your agenda and any other concerns you may have.

Other orientation asks that you focus solely on your team member as you lead and coach them and as you encourage them through whatever issue is at hand whether that’s a challenge, a misstep, a skill they have to acquire or a problem they need to overcome.

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Quality #2

Beginner’s mindset

Traditional leaders often have an “expert” mindset and this can create massive blocks to taking the team up to the highest level.

A beginner’s mindset – the approach that lets you adopt an “I’m always learning attitude” --  is the most effective and powerful way to continue to learn and lead by example and not just by command or instruction.

When you coach as a leader, the objective is to learn and grow together with your team and it’s not about feeling like you need to know everything all the time.

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Quality #3

Authentic Care

Your actions, decisions and communication style must show your team members that you care… truly care… about their progress at work and also their overall wellbeing.

This is about bringing your full attention and support to boosting their professional success and to making sure that every team member’s needs and wants are being heard, understood and met, wherever possible. 

In the post-pandemic climate, authentic care as a coaching leader is now more important than ever. COVID-19 shook up the way we look at work and life. As the lines blur and both worlds intersect, overall wellbeing becomes an important aspect in a team member’s progress.

Aligning your communication with these in mind helps you become much more than a leader — a person to look up to.

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Quality #4

Deep Questioning

All great coaches understand how to ask deep, probing questions that inspire their clients to uncover what’s really going on beneath the surface.

Knowing how to ask in depth questions in a non-invasive way is one of the most powerful skills that you can borrow from the coaching industry and it’s also one of the most important skills to cultivate as you learn to coach as a leader.

You can find out more about asking in-depth questions in our Ultimate Guide to Coaching  

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Quality #5

Creating a Safe Space

A key quality you need when you begin to coach as a leader is to know exactly how to create a safe space for your employees to be honest with you.

This involves encouraging team members to come to you when they have problems and taking on a non-judgmental approach especially when things don’t go the way you hoped.

This will build a deep bond of trust where your team members feel like they can approach you even when they make mistakes and this is exactly where you get the chance to support and coach your team members to find solutions and innovative ways to solve problems.

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Quality #6

Empowered Feedback

Knowing how to give supportive, helpful feedback is a big part of being effective in coaching as a leader. This is where your feedback leaves your team members feeling empowered and ready to take action rather than distressed, judged, embarrassed and ready to hide.

The biggest key to giving empowered feedback is to laser in on the behavior or problem and not the person.

Whatever you do, don’t make your team member “wrong.” Make the behavior, habit or mistake your focus instead.

This lets the person receiving the feedback to do what it takes to make things right.

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Let’s take some time to reflect on where you are now in these 6 key qualities (Part 1 Evaluation) and also create space to brainstorm ideas on how to improve as you begin to adopt coaching as a skill in the context of leadership (Part 2 Ideation)

Part 1 Evaluation

On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being perfect and one being “clueless”), how would you rate yourself on these 6 skills?

Other Orientation

Beginner’s mindset

Authentic Care

Deep Questioning

Safe Space

Empowered Feedback

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Part 2 Ideation

Question #1

Refer to your answers on each of the 6 scales. Which are the skills where you scored less than 7? List them out.

Question #2

How can you hone, sharpen and fine-tune each of those skills? Brainstorm ideas and write them down in a journal.
(eg: take an online course, find a mentor, etc)

Question #3

What’s one simple positive action you can do to begin honing your skills as a leader based on some of the ideas you came up with in the previous question? Challenge yourself to take that action by the end of today.
(eg: sign up for an online course, purchase a book, etc)