How a Coaching Leadership Style Unlocks Potential?

“In the past, a leader was a boss. Today’s leaders must be partners with their people; they no longer can lead solely based on positional power.” – Ken Blanchard

There was a time when Leaders succeeded in their roles if they had the correct answers. 

However, today the demands from leadership have drastically changed! To nurture high-performing leadership, training is just not enough. A new style of leadership – coaching leadership is the need of the hour! 

It integrates coaching mindsets & behaviors to see the potential of the employees. The coaching style is vastly different from the command and control management style, that we have witnessed till now.

Skilled coaching entails “unlocking people’s ability to enhance their performance,” as Sir John Whitmore, a pioneer in the subject, put it. The best practitioners are the ones who are skilled at both aspects — leading through coaching and assisting others in self-discovery

Definition: What Is Coaching Leadership Style?

So what exactly is Coaching Leadership?

As opposed to the autocratic leadership style, which focuses on top-down decision-making, Coaching Leadership orients towards partnering, collaboration, guidance, and support. 

It is a management style in which leaders provide assistance and direction rather than directives & workers learn how to adjust to continuously changing environments in ways that spark new vitality, ingenuity, and commitment.

What Is Coaching Leadership

Who Created The Coaching Leadership Style?

The initiator of the coaching method of leadership was Sir John Whitmore. He introduced Tim Gallwey’s Inner Game to Europe in the late 1970s, and the narrative began. After experiencing it as skiers, a group of IBM managers requested if he could bring it to their organization to demonstrate to new managers how to maximize potential. When Sir John took on the challenge, the “leader-coach” method was established. 

How Does Coaching Leadership Style (CLS) Differ From Traditional Management Style (TMS)?

  • TMS, such as “command and control,” assumes that the leaders are the experts and have all the solutions (or feel like they ought to).
  • TMS has the answers while Coaching – Leadership focuses on asking powerful questions so that teams discover answers by themselves.
  • TMS sets the goals while CLS co-facilitates the setting of vision.
  • In TMS, the power is drawn from the authority of position whereas, in CLS, Leaders draw it from the partnership with the people.
  • TMS opts for a directive approach while Coaching leadership is a supportive one.

What Are The Benefits of Coaching Leadership?

A productive workplace environment

Leaders can establish a steady, encouraging work atmosphere by employing the coaching leadership style. The purpose of this leadership approach is to enable others to reach their potential. Leaders provide the teams with crucial input to inspire them through challenging scenarios.

Employees are aware of what is expected of them

Coaching leaders co-facilitate goal setting, in the spirit of partnership the objectives are created and not pushed from the top. They make sure that everyone is aware of the expectations by communicating them honestly and plainly. 

It expands the skill set and tunes the mindset of every leader/executive


Coaching leadership is highly-customized. The capacity to raise skill competency levels across the board is closely linked to these mentoring activities. Not only it increase output and the caliber of the work produced, but it also paves the way for future leaders to continue employing the coaching leadership style once they can advance into management & executive roles.

The Coaching Leadership style can create competitive advantages.

Coaching leaders co-facilitate goal setting, in the spirit of partnership the objectives are created and not pushed from the top. They make sure that everyone is aware of the expectations by communicating them honestly and plainly. 

Benefits of Coaching Leadership

How Does a Leader–Coach Improve Performance?

What do you think causes sloppy performance at the workplace?

Leader–Coach Performance

A survey revealed the three most often quoted reasons for performance problems: 

  • Motivational Deficit
  • Skills Deficit 
  • Resources Deficit

Now, let us explore how leaders with coaching skills can bridge this performance gap. 

“You can train for skills, provide for resources but motivation is a different and difficult demon to be conquered” ~ Regal Unlimited

Usually, the deficit is a zero-sum game. You are running short of $500, if you add $500 (surplus) then a deficit of 500$ is nullified. Any deficit can be nullified by adding (giving training, resources, etc.) 

But the motivational deficit is a different demon because the more you motivate, the less interested the recipient becomes! Motivational deficit requires leaders with coaching skills! 

A glimpse of it can be seen in how Aristotle coached Alexander. He did not coach him for warfare exactly (though Alexander’s father wanted precisely that) instead he motivated Alexander to view the world differently, and talked about poetry, beauty, and patterns in nature. He was coaching the ‘person’ and not the ‘problem.’

Coaching for the motivational deficit is similar! It requires trust building.

Leaders through coaching build trust, and they aim to create a safe space for the employees to converse openly and without judgment. While many leaders might find it threatening, leaders who coach can allow free conversation to build relatedness and trust. 

When employees feel listened to (without judgment) they feel belonged! Morale and motivation increase out of belongingness

Another way leaders who coach address the motivational deficit is by ensuring that the command and control style of leadership is disregarded, “I am a leader and you do what I say” kind of approach can never be empowering, rather coaching style of leadership that gives power to the employees and makes them accountable can definitely bridge the motivational gap! 

Leaders who coach ‘ask’ powerful questions instead of ‘telling’ the answers. The power of questions directs the employees to seek these answers and be accountable for the outcome! 

Another skill that leaders who coach master are that of being ‘PRESENT’ to the employees. When employees are skill-deficient; “Get rid of him/her.” is the default approach! 

But with coaching skills, leaders look at the employees’ potential (and not only current performance). Leaders who coach – use a different lens and view the same employee differently! Coaching conversation with him can reveal the unique strengths he/she has – how differently the same employee can contribute? How can he/she upskill him/herself to continue contributing? How could he/she have known this need to upskill earlier? Does the employee really feel the need for up skill? What Upskilling can bring for his future self (professionally/personally), etc. can be explored and this gives clarity on ‘Why’ s/he should Up skill instead of directing them and enrolling them for training programs. 

How to Be a Coaching Leader? 

To become a coaching leader, you must

Master the coaching Competencies

ICF has provided a well-researched framework of coaching competencies that every Coach like leader must have. These competencies can be mastered through training. Regal Unlimited offers a program that equips leaders in learning and embedding these coaching skills in their daily leadership

Learn to Listen

Listening is an underrated skill. Least practised and most prophesied. Listening has been taught in almost every Leadership Development program, but coaches listen at a different frequency (literally) Leaders who coach master this skill of listening for emotions, feelings, things which are unsaid, and finally listening for the hidden stories that employees tell themselves (feel for themselves)

Statements versus Questions

Leaders with coaching skills know the power of questioning. Leaders stay curious and question to drive the outcomes positively. Usually, when team members are questioned, they get defensive. Therefore powerful questioning is a skill, that leaders who coach master in our program at Regal Unlimited

Give Time

As a leader – giving time to the team members is considered a favour! But Coaching leadership demands giving time and being ‘present’ during those moments for the team! It’s not about giving time in minutes/hours, rather it is about being completely present for the team member (even for a minute)  

What Are the Challenges of Coaching Leadership?

Coaching by nature is time taking. There is no quick fix, no hack, no shortcut to getting outcomes by coaching the employees. It is not an adrenaline sprint, but rather a fulfilling marathon

Coaching Leadership requires leaders to be trained and qualified. Only professional coaches (with credible certification) can coach the team members. The coaching skills cannot be acquired by books, videos, etc.

Coaching leadership can be considered ‘soft’ because it does not have the dynamism of training and results. However, Coaching is future-oriented and has proven its efficacy in cultural transformations (Eg; Microsoft and culture of coaching)

Coaching Leadership is reflective in nature (for both Coach and the Coachee) Teams that are very action-oriented, working by the minutes might find Coaching as a process – very ‘boring’ but later this excessive need to be action-oriented can cause problems and burn-out

Challenges of Coaching Leadership

How Can You Bring a Coaching Leadership Style Into Your Organization with Regal Unlimited?

At Regal Unlimited, we take pride in grooming over 1000+ leaders through our “Leaders as Coaches” program. This program enables the leaders and the executives to master the coaching competencies (as mandated by ICF) 

Our focus on Coaching practice ensures that these skills are practically implemented in the workplace. 

A global automobile enrolled 13 of its leaders in this program to nurture the culture of coaching in their organization.

A tech org from Columbia enrolled 24 of their second-in-line high-potential leaders to get groomed and have seen a world of difference in the business outcomes 

An NBFC firm in India along with its CEO and 4 functional leaders attended this program to experience the power of the coaching style of leadership from Regal Unlimited. These and many more case stories about our Leader as Coach program! 

Are you looking to groom yourself or leaders, executives, and professionals of your company, then write to us at:

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