New Managers

Examples of leadership coaching in the workplace

Most managers got their roles because they excelled as individual contributors. But management is a new skill that needs to be developed. This article outlines three different models of leadership coaching that can help managers become better leaders for their teams.

Nick Saraev

Published on 

September 17, 2021

Updated on 

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Since managers are in charge of both vital teams and crucial systems, you'd assume their training would be extensive – but it isn't always. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor found that the majority of companies give their managers just 6 to 12 minutes of training per year. That’s hardly a quarter of an hour to master the art of leadership.

Unfortunately, this means managers are rarely taught the different leadership styles. The coaching style in particular is proven to be a highly effective one, and it's gaining traction in corporate environments around the world.

Are you in a position of leadership? If so, you might consider incorporating coaching into your leadership style. Here we'll explain what the coaching approach is, as well as offer examples of how it can be applied in a corporate environment.

What is leadership coaching?

Leadership coaching is an approach to management training that focuses on developing leadership capabilities in senior managers and high-potential employees.

Leadership coaching for managers cultivates an atmosphere that encourages exploration, experimentation, learning, innovation, and change. This approach emphasizes listening, asking questions, and giving participants options rather than directions. This is much more effective than telling employees what to do.

Through the process of building up managers to become better leaders, they discover how to access and use organizational resources while setting and pursuing goals for themselves. 

What are the characteristics of coaching leadership style?

Within leadership, there are a few different approaches. 

  • There's pacesetting leadership, in which the leader sets the tone and standards for a group or team; 
  • there's delegative leadership, which emphasizes delegating tasks and relying on employees to make decisions; 
  • and, of course, there's coaching.

Coaching leadership is a style that emphasizes personal development. A leader takes a hands-on approach with their team members, using direct feedback and individual attention to help them reach goals. 

The goal is not only to improve performance, but also the overall growth of each member of the team. It's about developing skills so they can take more ownership over their roles in the future. 

Some key characteristics of this style include:


Leaders who equip the coaching style are enthusiastic about collaboration. Employees are encouraged to work in teams in their pursuit of goals. 

Feedback over directives

Instead of passing out orders like an authoritarian, coaching leaders take the time to give detailed feedback and to listen. This allows for a greater understanding of the goals and objectives that need to be met. Coachers are open to questions and proactive about clarification; they understand that progress is only made with understanding. 

Employee development over 'getting it done'

The coaching leadership style is known for its focus on employee development. To embrace this style is to realize that consistent employee growth leads to long-term benefits for the team, as well as for individual members. 

Higher retention and engagement rates

Leaders who embrace the coaching style tend to have higher retention and engagement rates among their team members. This is because employees feel valued and appreciated, leading them to stay with the organization for longer periods of time. 

Major skills within the coaching leadership style

Wondering how you can work toward a coaching leadership style? Here are seven major skills you'll need to master:

1. Professional development skills

As a coach, it's important to have a deep understanding of the development process – being able to assess individual members' strengths and weaknesses as well as having knowledge of various learning techniques and resources. 

2. Communication skills

Coaching leaders need to be able to communicate effectively with their team members. They should be good listeners, open-minded in conversations, and able to express themselves clearly. 

3. Emotional intelligence

Being emotionally intelligent is a non-negotiable in the coaching role. From showing empathy to understanding the team dynamics, being able to successfully recognize and respond to emotions is key. 

4. Constructive feedback & active listening

Coaches need to be able to give and receive feedback without judgment. They should also have an active listening approach, where they focus on understanding the impact of their words on the other person. 

5. Mentorship

Being a mentor is an innate part of the coaching leadership style. You'll be called upon for advice, support, guidance, and direction. Having the ability to impart wisdom while being humble is essential in this regard. 

6. Self-awareness

Are you aware of your own strengths and weaknesses as a leader? Are you able to reflect on your actions and behaviors in order to make changes when necessary? Self-awareness is key for any coach. 

7. Accessibility

Finally, being accessible to your team is a must. Coaching leaders should be available to answer questions and provide support when needed; they should also take the time to check in with each individual on their team regularly. 

What are the models of leadership coaching?

There are three different models of leadership coaching that managers can employ. They are the GROW model, group and team coaching, and peer coaching. Let’s look at each one in more detail:

GROW model

The Grow model of coaching can be used to help focus employees on what actions they should take. There are four parts to it:

  • Goal - ask the employee what they want to accomplish right now. What is it they want to achieve before they leave the conversation? 
  • Reality - help employees focus on the facts of the situation by asking what, where, when, and who questions. Getting people to slow down and think this way can help them consider the problem thoughtfully and figure out the right solution. 
  • Options - uncovering the possibilities that an employee has to solve the issue can be as simple as asking them what they would do if they had a magic wand. Thinking this way can help them consider new perspectives and fresh ideas. 
  • Will - finally, ask the employee what they will do. This can clarify the strategy discussed and focus them on the solution.

Group and Team Coaching 

With group or team coaching, the goal is for the leader to guide the members to look beyond themselves and learn to work together successfully. This will be evident in their ability to communicate, learn, act, and decide things together. 

Peer Coaching Model

Some psychologists believe that you can adjust a person’s behavior through modelling. In peer coaching, employees observe what their colleagues do, which gives them more confidence to perform the modelled behavior. 

Additionally, leaders too can demonstrate the behavior they want employees to adopt. Managers can also ask the employee to think of people they know that have had a positive impact. 

When to use the coaching leadership style

As a leader of people, there are moments every single day in which coaching leadership applies. Let's look at some examples of when – and how – you might use this approach in your day-to-day. 

1. Coaching a junior with leadership potential

When new talent comes onto the team, there's always the chance you will find your next right-hand helper or protege. Begin investing in that potential as soon as possible by providing them with advice, guidance, and mentorship. 

2. Improving key metrics (i.e. cycle time, customer satisfaction)

If you’re facing key performance metrics that are below expectations, the coaching style of leadership can be used to help employees identify areas for improvement. Offer clear and constructive feedback to your team as a whole, then encourage them to collaborate toward the new goals you set.

3. Navigating conflict or unrest

Conflict management is best navigated through a coaching lens; you're there to help your team members find the best way to handle any tension that arises. Ask questions, listen, and encourage a resolution before offering an opinion or solution of your own. Make empathy your default.

How does coaching contribute to effective leadership development?

There are many examples of successful leadership development programs that use coaching methods to help managers and high-potential employees develop their leadership skills and capabilities in different ways. Two ways include:

Develops mentoring relationships

Workplace mentoring is a trusted and effective tool to help engage employees, develop their skills and talent, cultivate connections, and share knowledge. Over 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies have mentoring programs in their organizations. These mentorships have several benefits for mentees, mentors, and the organization, including:

  • Reduce turnover
  • Increase engagement
  • Succession planning
  • Talent development

The correct application of leadership coaching strategies can develop successful mentoring relationships in your organization. Starting a workplace mentoring program is simplified through the application of mentoring software. 

Programs like Together guide you through registering, pairing mentors and mentees, and creating reports. It will save you time and money and enable you to build a workplace mentoring program that can change your office culture and your organization’s future employee’s career. Doing this will help develop higher-performing companies. 

Increases accountability and decreases feelings of alienation 

Managers are key to cultivating an inclusive workplace. Their role requires them to offer support, advice, and encouragement to employees at the right time. 

Unfortunately, this is not always easy to do, and managers need to develop their leadership skills to be effective. Reducing the feelings of alienation from work that employees can have will lead to a more robust workplace culture and a more successful organization. 

Brings positive impacts for both teams and their managers 

Leadership coaching can have a positive effect on both the team and their manager. The team can become more focused, motivated, and engaged in their work with clear goals and objectives. This leads to better performance for the whole organization. 

Managers benefit from leadership coaching because they gain an understanding of employees’ needs, thoughts, and behavior which helps them make better decisions when managing people. They are also better equipped to resolve conflicts and manage difficult conversations.

Bottom line

As a leader of people, you have the power to make or break the effectiveness of a team. Investing in the coaching leadership style can help you manage your team with more empathy and understanding, while also creating an environment of trust and collaboration. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.

Mentorship is one of the best ways to develop leadership skills and cultivate relationships. The application of mentoring software makes this process simpler and more efficient – so keep Together in mind if you’re looking to create a mentorship program that lasts.

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