Coaching in Leadership

Posted on August 26, 2021
By rita cincotta

Coaching in Leadership

Coaching in Leadership

1969 was an interesting year.  The Beatles had their last performance, Boeing 747 made its debut and of course Neil Armstrong stepped out on to the moon.    These are fun facts.  However, I think something else that was quite remarkable from a leadership perspective occurred.  One of my favourite leadership models the Situational leadership model, was developed by Ken Blanchard and Paul Hersey back in… of course 1969.

More than fifty years later, the Situational Leadership model is still used in leadership development today.  The simplicity of the model, along with the ease of application, is likely what has helped it stand the test of time. 

The model highlights four key modes that leaders can utilise in their leadership style. 

  • Directing
  • Supporting
  • Delegating
  • Coaching

The leader determines which style might be best suited to their team member based on the development stage of their employee.  When I use this model in leadership development programs that I deliver, I often provide an example where a leader may need to work across more than one of these leadership styles even in one conversation with an employee. For example, a highly competent HR Manager who is now taking on Board reporting and presenting, may need delegating and supporting as they develop in their new portfolio area.  The benefit of this model is that the leader is required to really tune into the needs of their employees, rather than leading in one mode.  It is more adaptive and places the employee at the centre of the best leadership style required for any situation.

Given the last 18 months, I believe that leadership now looks different. There's a lot that Managers need to fit in, particularly in challenging circumstances. If you haven’t already, adopting a coaching approach to your leadership toolkit, as referenced in the Situational Leadership Model above, will help to keep your team connected and engaged.

How can you do this?  There are six key ways to incorporate coaching into your leadership style that I would like to share with you.

  1. Leading with Empathy

Leading with empathy is about knowing how to best support your team based on their needs.  It’s about knowing what empathy looks like in leadership, and how you can use it to build interpersonal relationships.

2. High impact communication

High impact communication is about communicating effectively in a variety of settings and using different modes.  We can’t rely on gathering everyone in the tearoom, but equally we don’t want to only offer a one way zoom box as our primary communication tool.  This is about attentively listening to others and encouraging open expression, diverse ideas and opinions which promotes psychological safety.

3. Building team spirit

Yes, we need to be more imaginative with this now, but the last 18 months have also taught us that we have more opportunities and methods than we ever would have believed to be possible.   Building team spirit is about establishing common objectives and a shared mindset, creating feelings of belonging and a strong team morale.  It’s also about fostering open dialogue and collaboration among the team.

4. Collaboration in a new way of working

Many people tell me that what they miss most about being in a workplace with their colleagues is the chance encounters where ideas would spark.  The 10am dash to grab a coffee where you could walk and talk and solve an issue quickly and instantaneously. This can still be done now, by encouraging cooperation to achieve shared objectives and by building trust in the team.

5. Developing resilience

I am surprised at the number of times I hear people say, “I hate that word (resilience).”  I disagree.  I love the word resilience.  For me it reminds me of a piece of elastic and ensuring that the elastic has enough give to withstand movement, without abruptly bouncing back and snapping on my fingers (ouch that hurts!).  For Leaders this is about maintaining confidence under pressure, handling difficult situations effectively and bouncing back from adversity. 

6. Be an evolution champion

I get a bit bored with the term “Change management”.   No offence Change Managers.  I don’t think you can really “manage” change.  Change is slippery and hard to contain in a nice, neat box and “manage” it.  Change consists of people.  The best way to help people with change, is to acknowledge that change can be hard, emotional, surprising, and unexpected.  Leaders can be Evolution Champions by approaching the uncertainty of change with confidence.  They can choose to be calm and productive even when things are up in the air.  Leaders can also deal constructively with problems that do not have clear solutions or outcomes.  This seems to me to be a more realistic way of supporting people through change.

These six tips all leverage coaching techniques that you can use as part of your leadership toolkit.

1969 was a memorable year with so many historical highlights.  And 2020 and 2021 will also go down in history as memorable years for so many different reasons.   The insights and lessons we have learned about how we have responded as leaders through this change, will stay with us for decades to come.  If we can think about how to enhance our ability to lead differently in this current era, we will have done our bit in supporting the communities and teams we serve.

If the six tips above resonate for you, I will be discussing these in greater detail in a complimentary masterclass I am hosting.

For details and registration visit:

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