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Why all leaders need to be effective coaches | A contribution from Intoo consultancy


According to Bersin by Deloitte, ‘Organisations with senior leaders who coach effectively and frequently, improve their business results by 21% as compared to those who never coach.’ Coaching, therefore, should not just be a ‘nice to have’, more an indispensable part of a leader’s skillset. Here’s why:

The role of a leader

Business today is demanding and rapidly changeable and that is mirrored in the role of the leader. While managers may traditionally plan, organise and control, a true leader must establish a purpose teams can unite behind and develop a road map of how to achieve it. They must harness the talents of their team by taking the time to understand them, involve them and allow them the opportunities for long-term growth and advancement. Removing barriers and driving effective collaboration between teams (or team members) will move the organisation towards shared goals while driving the highest standards – a must in the pursuit of excellence.

A leader must be an accomplished team builder – inspiring, motivating and resolving conflict – to create committed and empowered teams. They must focus on long-term results and guide others towards those desired commercial outcomes. Recognition is also fundamental to the development of high performing teams. Leaders can motivate individuals by delivering positive feedback in response to positive actions. By setting ambitious goals they can prevent complacency and mediocracy.

The role of coaching in leading teams

Let’s look at some of the key skills professionals gain from being coached:

• The support needed for peak performance
• Adapted learning styles for greater traction
• Feedback they can actually apply
• Room to work on problems and discover solutions
• An environment that fosters independence
• Skills which match the organisation’s need

We can see a great correlation between the role of a leader and the benefits brought by coaching. Indeed, applying a coaching approach becomes a logical pathway for leaders looking to engender high performance.

The coaching skills needed by leaders

Some leaders may already naturally possess many of the skills needed for themselves and their teams to excel. However, balancing the dual roles of leadership – delivering on short term objectives while supporting and developing your team – can be a challenge for even the most experienced and successful operators.

If people in your team are struggling, the ability to switch to ‘coach mode’, aiding them to problem solve, overcome challenges and ultimately get the best out of them, can be priceless. A Harvard Business Review report defined coaching as ‘a style of management primarily characterised by asking employees questions that help them fulfil their immediate responsibilities more effectively and advance their development as professionals over time’. Leaders that apply these coaching techniques challenge the coachee to think differently, shifting the employee’s thinking from problem to solution. They elicit creativity in the employee which helps progression towards objectives. Employees realise a greater awareness of the business’s needs, take greater responsibility for them and with that, collective team performance increases.

Powerful outcomes

Undoubtedly, as your leaders master the art of coaching, the improved effectiveness of your teams will help deliver your desired business performance. The opening quote from Bersin by Deloitte demonstrates the potential impact on the bottom line, however the benefits for those businesses investing in coaching skills are numerous. Coaching improves productivity through speed of decision making by empowering employees and managers to make decisions themselves. We see less command and control and more resourceful teams capable of taking ownership of problems and figuring out solutions.

Ten to twelve years ago, many leadership experts were talking about the need to lead in VUCA times (Volatility uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) and that constant change would become an everyday feature of business life. Fast forward ten years and this is certainly true. Looking at the UK and a business landscape dominated by Brexit, the ability to predict the next few weeks let alone the next few months is a challenge. Operating effectively when everything is in a constant state of flux is a must.

A coaching driven environment creates greater leadership resilience and agility, not simply in the leaders themselves but also in their teams, helping them to manage changing challenges quickly. It allows them to react to uncertainty without paralysis and today there is a real need for this. Embedding a coaching philosophy across your organisation and ensuring your leaders develop effective coaching skills enables many facets of a business to function more effectively – including: onboarding, engagement, performance, knowledge transfer and development as well as safeguarding the wellbeing of teams.

Ultimately, by empowering team members to develop their own talents and flourish, they contribute more significantly to the leader’s objectives and the overall success of the organisation. Leaders who are skilled coaches, capable of switching hats quickly, are therefore critical components that no organisation can afford to be without.

INTOO UK and Ireland is a talent management business committed to helping organisations create environments where talent really thrives, true potential is realised and business results are achieved.

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