Why every leader needs coaching in their skillset

We know that coaching is a valuable leadership skill, yet in many businesses it’s not at the top of the agenda to create a leadership culture that empowers a coaching style. Understood as a nice idea, an optional extra perhaps, in some organisations the power of coaching as a leadership style is yet to be fully appreciated. And utilised.

“Organisations with senior leaders who coach effectively and frequently, improve their business results by 21% as compared to those who never coach.” – Bersin by Deloitte.

Coaching helps build engagement, improves performance and leads to higher retention. So there is a clear case for it to be embedded in leadership culture.

The skill of a successful leader is in knowing how and when to utilise different leadership styles – coaching should not eclipse the others. But there is growing evidence that it should be at the forefront of business ethos and in the skillset of every purpose-driven leader.

What are the different leadership styles and where does coaching sit?  

 There are many theories on leadership styles and they all have some truth in them. But one of the theories we often refer to was developed by Daniel Goleman and focuses on emotional intelligence.

Goleman’s leadership styles are based on the idea that leaders need to recognise and understand the emotions, strengths, beliefs and values of others to lead effectively. Goleman’s theory dictates that there is no right or wrong leadership style but reading a situation and reacting using the appropriate style is key.

So what are the six Goleman leadership styles, when are they most effective and where does coaching fit in?

  1.     Affiliative

The aim of the affiliative leadership style is to promote collaboration and positive relationships in a team. Done successfully, the leader will facilitate a harmonious atmosphere where all team members feel valued and have a sense of belonging.

This style of leadership helps build morale and trust and can be an effective solution to healing rifts within teams. Leading this way can help create the right environment for a focus on strategy, innovation, vision and future thinking.

  1.     Participative (democratic)

Known also as democratic leadership style, Goleman later switched the word democratic for participative to better represent what he wanted to say. A participative  leader encourages open discussion, equal participation and shared decision-making across the team. It requires an experienced, confident and professional team for this to work. But when a leader has the skills to facilitate and unify, participative leadership can be highly effective.

It works well for leaders who are comfortable with and value flexibility, and who work in situations where there may be rapid change or frequent problem-solving. Democratic leadership offers challenge and allows for continual individual and team growth.

  1.   Directive (coercive)

Best preserved for times of emergency or urgency, the directive leadership style comes into play when a leader just needs to get things done. They may have already tried and failed with other leadership styles. It is a firefighting, short-term approach.

This style of action leaves little or no time for discussion and relies on the assertiveness of the leader and the compliance of the employee or team.

  1.     Pace setting

For teams who respond well to working under pressure and who are required to consistently meet high standards and frequently hit optimistic targets, the pace setting style can work.

But there are risks and drawbacks to this style. While the pace setting style can achieve excellent outcomes in the short-term, its heavy focus on performance and results can be detrimental to employee wellbeing, engagement and motivation in the longer term. Leaders utilising this leadership style must be mindful of employees’ mental wellbeing and cautious of creating a toxic working environment.

  1.   Visionary (authoritative)

In contrast to the pace setting style, the visionary style is generally viewed as an approach that is positive and supportive. Driven by a vision and desire to work together as a team to achieve that vision. Visionary leaders will inspire and motivate teams while offering direction, guidance, feedback and encouragement.

  1.     Coaching

The coaching leadership style invests in long-term results, growth and harmony, with a focus on supporting and developing team members. Coaching leaders help employees identify and understand their strengths and weaknesses to improve their skills and working relationships.

The theory behind the coaching leadership style is to empower employees, encouraging a sense of ownership and accountability, which ultimately leads to positive individual and organisational growth.

How is coaching different to other leadership styles?

The coaching leadership style is different because of its focus on investing in the long-term. Too often neglected in favour of short-term results and seemingly quick-fix alternatives, some organisations are missing a trick.

Well trained coaching leaders can bridge the gap between the harsher, results driven pace setting style and the nurturing, long-term style of visionary leadership, to get real results. It empowers leaders to ask difficult questions, lead with purpose and bring about change.

Coaching leadership works with both talented, skilled and willing employees, as well as those who may be lacking motivation or skills. The leader can tailor their coaching to suit the needs of the individual and help them grow to meet the goals of the wider organisation.

While coaching requires a greater investment of time, its holistic, developmental approach leads to consistent results across an organisation and loyal, focused, harmonious and productive teams.

For businesses wanting to appeal to new talent and the modern workforce, a commitment to performance development and professional growth is highly attractive – two thirds of 

Millennials expect their managers to offer professional development opportunities.

And what of ROI? According to one study, 86% of companies rate their ROI favourably for their investment in coaching, stating that the investment at least paid for itself. Coaching leadership is also proven to improve rates of retention and absenteeism.

Since investment in coaching leadership style can have such a lasting and sizable human and business impact, every leader should have coaching in their skillset. Contact us to learn more about upcoming courses and how coaching leadership can benefit your business.