In the last couple of decades, we’ve witnessed a revolution in leadership.

Our parents’ generation expected a top-down management style, that stuffy boss who told them what to do. In recent years, though, we’ve woken up to the fact that traditional management styles are less than effective. Our world is changing fast, and in order for us to thrive long into the future, we need a new style of leadership.

This new type of bottom-up leadership is often referred to as the “coaching leadership” style. A personal coach is a facilitator who, rather than telling you what to do, uses a process of discovery to help you move forward faster than you ever would have on your own.  More and more managers and supervisors are realizing they need coaching skills.

The bad news is that most of us never learned these skills at home or in school.  The good news is that you can learn coaching leadership skills.

In this article, we’ll discuss the four essential “coaching leadership” skills and how a management coach can help.  They are:

  • Staying aligned with your purpose and vision, and helping your team do the same.
  • Creating a safe container in which your team can be creative and take smart risks.
  • Listening deeply and building healthy relationships.
  • Being present, both at work and outside of work.

Let’s begin!

First: Staying aligned with your purpose and vision, and helping your team to do the same.

All our focus on checking off to-do lists can distract us from a deeper sense of why we’re doing what we’re doing. Even when managers feel connected to their purpose, their staff can burnout if they don’t feel the same connection.

A manager with a coaching leadership style inspires their team to stay connected with their purpose.  They also understand that purpose is one of four keys to intrinsic motivation, which include:

  • Purpose: the deeper meaning or big why behind our work
  • Mastery: a combination of knowing how to do what you’re doing and of continually wanting to learn more
  • Autonomy: the freedom to self-determine how you will achieve your goals
  • Connection: a sense of relatedness and comradery with the people around you

Management coaching can help leaders stay connected to their sense of purpose and help their staff do the same.

Second: Creating a safe container in which your team can be creative and take smart risks.

When we’re honest with ourselves, we see that none of us have all the answers. Managers with a coaching style don’t pretend to absolutely know what’s best.  Instead, they create an environment which supports team members to think outside the box, make difficult decisions, and take smart risks. In doing this, solutions reveal themselves, which the manager may never have even considered.

Management coaching offers a role model for supervisors who want to develop a coaching leadership style. As a management coach, I offer observations and assessments which reveal clients’ blind spots or solutions that are staring them in the face, but which they never before considered. However, my clients are the experts on their own workplace.  Rather than giving them the answers, I help my clients discover the solutions that are best for them.

Third: Listening deeply and building healthy relationships.

At the heart of coaching, leadership, and skillful management is the ability to listen deeply. If we’re not listening deeply, then simply put, we’re not leading. And, we’ll most likely not be heard, either.

In order to come up with our best ideas, most of us need a sounding board. And, to learn how to listen better, you need to be listened to yourself.  The problem is, unless you’re also genuinely heard, it can be incredibly hard to give this gift to another person. And, if you’re in a high-level position, you may not have supportive people to listen to you.

If you feel like your staff is just not hearing you, or you feel lost in the echo chamber of your mind, these are good signs that management coaching could be helpful.

Fourth: Being present, both at work and outside of work.

Burnout is a pernicious bedfellow of the mission-driven sector, and it threatens the health, happiness, and effectiveness of so many high-achievers. Many teachers out there will tell you that to reduce stress, you need to work fewer hours, exercise more, eat healthier, or manage your time better. And, they’re often right.

However, what’s usually left out of the conversation about stress and burnout is a focus on presence. Sure, we give lip-service to being present, but rarely do we actually learn how to do this. You can become more successful at work and happier outside of work, simply by learning how to be more present. Moreover, when we are present as managers, we also have leadership presence, and are so much more capable of inspiring and leading our teams to success.

My training is in Presence-Based Coaching, and as a management coach, it warms my heart to witness the transformations that my clients experience when they learn to be more present, on both emotional and practical levels.  Managers who have mastered the skills of coaching leadership elicit wild success from their teams, and this often has more to do with their ability to be present than with anything else.

If this resonates and you want to develop your coaching skills as a leader, I invite you to apply for a free discovery session and learn more about how executive coaching support can help you be a more effective—and fulfilled—manager.


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