Leadership style in today’s world is transforming to keep up with the changes in the environment. The rapid pace of constant disruptive change is the driving factor behind this. Managers were expected to provide all the answers in an evolving environment where the traditional command and control model worked. Today, managers face unprecedented situations that they have never experienced before. To deal with such scenarios, managers can only provide guidance and support while their team members learn to adapt to change by creating fresh ideas that lead to their customers’ solutions. Coaching style of leadership is now becoming the most successful and relevant in the workplaces. It has become a necessity and no more a luxurious choice for the leaders. Coaching is a skill that all managers now need to learn and practice.

The Leader’s role as a coach is critical for the organization

One may begin with hiring a ICF credentialed coach to mentor leaders strengthen their personal and professional skills. Leaders can also learn on how to become better at coaching by mastering the methods and discipline of coaching from these mentor coaches. That work is vital towards creating the right capability in leaders. However, to create a learning organization, all leaders must work as coaches for their team members. That helps build an innovative culture in organizations, that can deal with the rapid pace of change in the business environment and the customers’ fast-evolving needs and demands. That’s what helps build a competitive edge.

One more time – what is coaching?

Coaching cannot be misconstrued as Mentoring- which concerns an experienced leader sharing information or experience with a less experienced team member, although that remains valuable. Coaching is a way of asking powerful questions that provoke insights in their team members. Therefore skillful coaching is about unlocking people’s potential to maximize their performance. In their coaching situations, the best leaders display mastery over both parts of the process: sharing knowledge and helping others discover their solutions by themselves. They can creatively do both in different situations. This is a vital skill that is missing in the leaders of many organizations.

What prevents leaders from being good coaches?

Perceived to be tedious and uncomfortable: Those leaders who are used to dealing with performance issues by telling people what to do often feel that a coaching approach is too soft. Telling people asserts authority, something they are comfortable doing. Coaching is not about asserting authority, so coaching may feel uncomfortable psychologically to many leaders. They may resist coaching with excuses about being too busy to spend time doing it. Or, they may say that they have inherited a team that cannot be coached. Research on leadership styles has shown that leaders usually rank coaching as their least favorite style. They state that coaching is too slow, and it is time-consuming to be practiced and help people grow.

Tendency to hugely overestimate coaching skills: Although some managers are reluctant to coach, they think they are effective leaders. In one study, managers’ assessment of their coaching skills were compared to how their team members assessed them. 24% of managers overestimated their skills and ranked themselves above average while their team members ranked them in the bottom third. That is a huge discrepancy. It showed that coaching skills in managers are often far worse than what they think.

Coaching can be challenging: In a training program, managers were asked to role-play a scenario where a manager has to decide to either fire or coach an underperformer. While the employee has made mistakes, the manager has caused some confusion by alternately ignoring him or micromanaging him. 9 out of 10 managers wanted to help him do better. When asked for role play, they know they should ask and listen, not tell and sell. That doesn’t happen as they have already decided the way forward, and the coaching session is just a way to get an agreement from the employee. Here’s how such conversations go:

Manager:  “How do you think you are doing?” (An open-ended question, to begin.)

Employee: “I am doing good.” (Not the expected answer.)

Manager: “Do you think there were any areas where you could have done better?” (Reformulates the question.)

Employee: “I think I did accomplish most of what I was expected to do.” (Again, not the expected answer, leading to frustration.)

Manager: “Don’t you think your skills and talents are better suited to a different role than what you are doing now?” (Asking leading questions.)

Employee: “No, I think I am in the right role. I like doing this job.” (Getting defensive. Less likely to give the expected answer.)

Manager: “Look, I think you are not delivering what is expected from a person in this role. I think you should look for an alternate role elsewhere.” (This is telling, to get the message across.)

The manager feels that they made an honest effort, and the employee is to blame. The employee thinks that he is being unfairly treated and doesn’t understand why he is in this situation. Such conversations are not coaching, and no one has learned anything or grown due to this session. This is a familiar scenario being played out across organizations. So, when employees are asked how their managers do at coaching, they are poorly rated. Organizations with such managers suffer on many fronts. Low levels of employee engagement, low levels of talent retention, low levels of creativity and innovation, under-motivated and underperforming staff lead to low customer satisfaction and underachievement of organization goals.

Coach Training is critically important

However, with the right training and tools, support, and practice, managers can become leaders who are doing coaching the right way to improve their organization’s culture for the better. Anybody can learn to become an impactful coach. Coaching, when adopted across the organization by every leader, has a transformational impact on the performance.Regal Unlimited provides the Regal Coach Certification Program, a world-class coach training for leaders (both practicing and aspiring across all levels), facilitated by Master Coaches and certified by the International Coaching Federation –  the GOLD standard in Coaching. Regal Unlimited has trained over 1000 corporate leaders from some reputed brands like Ford, Accenture and the like. We firmly believe that, “The future of Leadership is Coaching” and we are committed to nurturing a community of ‘future-ready leaders’


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