Leader as a coach

Author : Gowri S Ramani | Published On : 13 Sep 2021


There are several leadership styles, Leader As A Coach is one of the more popular ones in recent times.

As organizations are becoming more global, diverse, distributed, and matrixed, with remote working being the norm, old principles of leading by authority or hierarchy are becoming less effective and acceptable. Organizations are looking for leaders who can lead by example and create more leaders at each level to help to stay agile and dynamic!

Remember the adage – feed a person a fish versus teach the person how to fish – that’s what you as a leader are trying to do – create leaders capable of leading themselves first.

So what are the key elements for a leader to adopt a coaching style and still stay effective and efficient?

Here are the five essential elements:

Safety: First, when adopting a coaching approach with a peer or a subordinate, you must create a safe space for the person. She has to feel safe to share her thoughts, ideas, feelings about the situation and/or work and explore confidently. Ask open-ended yet thought-provoking questions, don’t ask questions for which you expect answers you want to hear!

Learning and Awareness Building: Help the person become aware of what she knows, what she doesn’t know (and make sure they feel ok to admit that she doesn’t know). Your agenda should be to make the person become capable of finding and executing solutions rather than looking at you for answers. Again, make sure your questions don’t necessarily drive them in the direction you want to take – rather she learns to find the direction herself and then navigate the path, with your support.

Failure: One of the key abilities to be a leader is to make decisions without being 100% sure of the outcome. And when it fails, be able to deal with the outcome and continue to move forward. A lot of people at work don’t want to lead because they don’t want to be blamed for failure. Encourage an environment where it’s ok to fail (after trying their best) and provide a safety net for your team members to take that risk. Failure can be a great teacher – encourage positive behaviors of learning and moving on.

Collaboration and Teamwork: Encourage constructive criticisms and productive collaborations by means of challenging and supporting each other within the team. A high-performance team is one that strengthens each other by encouraging diverse and conflicting perspectives to arrive at more robust ways forward.

Lead by Example: Finally, accept and demonstrate all the above yourself.