Many articles have been written on leadership and coaching as separate disciplines, presenting guidelines for fostering people’s development within organisations.
Leadership based on coaching starts with an eminently inductive approach whereby the leader-coach accompanies the collaborator in exploring and finding their own answers in order to determine and direct their improvement process. The positive repercussions of this process can be seen in terms of contribution, commitment and motivation. Subsequently, the relationship between the leader-coach and the collaborator (individual or team) improves, fostering shared workspaces that are difficult to create using other leadership styles.
The ten main skills of a leader-coach are:
- She has a clear purpose
She is someone who has done a lot of work around self-knowledge, focusing on both her strengths and her areas for improvement and used her discoveries in this area to define her purpose clearly, explicitly and irrevocably.
- He sets an example
He is the figure who fully represents the model to be followed and makes an effort to show conduct that is worthy of being imitated. This means that the leader-coach takes on extra responsibility not only because his actions are aligned with his values, but also because he must use his behaviour to attract his collaborators by ensuring that they see themselves reflected in it.
- She inspires and motivates others
Given that the purpose is clear and made explicit, the leader-coach is then able to incorporate her collaborators’ wishes and make them a reality, ensuring that they are invested in the collective dream. In order to inspire, the leader-coach must have a communication style that is frank, open, simple yet persuasive, and full of positive and achievable goals.
- He challenges collaborators
People do things if they feel challenged and stimulated to achieve their own goals. The leader-coach manages to get his collaborators to question themselves, to set goals for themselves as a team that would be unreachable on an individual level. He creates a sense of shared incentive whereby collaborators are motivated to accomplish something even more ambitious. Ideally, after creating a shared history, the leader-coach then fosters his team’s development, orienting it towards high performance and achieving top results.
- She has the capacity to listen deeply
She takes an interest in what her team members may propose and she always encourages them to put forward ideas. She knows that she is surrounded by highly motivated people who know their work, so she encourages team members to feel open by accepting their contributions and applying them to achieve the collective goal.
The leader-coach must have her senses attuned to the team’s needs, alert to every issue that arises in the shared space, no matter how difficult to perceive.
- He fosters an atmosphere of trust
Without trust, we cannot build a future, and for trust to develop, we must foster it. We can only nurture trust if we allow freedom of thought and action, allowing space for disagreement and building bridges of understanding between the different styles in the team.
- She is oriented towards her collaborators’ development
This is the main stimulus for a leader-coach: to help the team and its members to create a future that enables them to develop their full potential. Not only should the initial proposition be stimulating, but it should open up options to develop talent and promote growth.
- He provides effective feedback
Feedback is a structured process with its own rules that goes way beyond a conversation between the boss and the collaborator. The purpose of feedback is to obtain useful information about the performance of an individual or a team and to examine together the breadth and quality of the work. The feedback is concerned with behaviour and not so much with results, and must therefore be focused on learning to increase the collaborators’ levels of self-awareness and analysis. There little point to feedback in which the leader’s opinion prevails; this will not lead to learning on the part of either party and will end up being a mere exercise in supervision based solely on the leader’s expectations.
- She gives recognition to her members
She is someone who appreciates everyone’s work and contribution, eager to encourage good work and offer positive remarks about progress to both individuals and teams. Recognising does not only entail pointing out the quality of a job well done but also drawing attention to the difference between an ordinary result and an extraordinary contribution and rewarding the latter so that it may be repeated when needed.
- He is oriented towards action
The leader-coach helps the collaborator envision a future in which the competencies selected by the collaborator are transformed into new aptitudes and attitudes, forming part of the regular behaviour of the collaborator and representing tangible improvement.
The leader-coach personalises this process with each collaborator, adapting himself to each individual style and learning pace, but without leaving aside his own personal style and the purpose that unites them all: the common project or goal.