Leadership Coaching: How to get started

Want to start connecting your high-potential employees with leadership coaches? Here's everything you need to know.

Ryan Carruthers

Published on 

November 11, 2022

Updated on 

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Have you ever embarked on an endeavor without a more experienced person guiding you through? Or tried transitioning into a new field without guidance? 

How did that go? If you’re like most people making a transition in your career, it feels daunting. 

Whether in person or online, we need people who know the ropes and can lead us through change. And this is the same for modern leaders. 

While some people may wonder if executives need coaches, a study carried out by a Fortune 500 company showed an ROI of 788% for executive coaches. Whether you want to improve productivity, increase sales or get better employee engagement, one sure thing is that investing in leadership coaching will yield results.

Leaders need coaching to help them discover and groom the skills to execute their duties effectively—wondering how to harness the power of coaching for your organization? This article has the answers. 

This article will discuss everything you need to know about leadership coaching—its goals and benefits. We'll touch on who should participate, whether to use an internal or external coach and how to introduce a coaching program in the workplace.

What is Leadership Coaching?

Leadership coaching assesses executives’ abilities and improves their performance to reach their potential in supporting business objectives. It ensures that leaders maximize their abilities and lead teams to navigate business challenges. 

Generally, leadership coaching focuses on four main areas: 

  • Goal setting - ensure they set a specific, measurable goal with action plans that align with their organization's goals.
  • Problem-solving - helps identify and solve problems that prevent leaders from achieving their goals.
  • Decision-making - provides guidance and support to help leaders improve their decision-making abilities.
  • and communication - effective communication can help transform business and develop better relationships with others.

By helping leaders in these areas, coaches provide them with the tools they need to be successful.

What is the goal of leadership coaching?

Leadership coaching aims to equip future and existing leaders with the relevant skills for the job to ensure the company's long-term success. 

leadership coaching programs develop the talents of individuals and shows them how they can thrive in their workplace. Coaches help identify and build strengths within leaders that benefit organizations and individuals.

What are the benefits of leadership coaching

Leadership coaching impacts individuals and organizations alike. As employees and leaders grow, they apply what they learn to the business for its benefit. 

Let’s zoom in on the specific benefits of coaching:

For Organizations

  • Enhanced Performance: If a business succeeds, it depends on how well the leaders and departments within it perform. Employees who undergo leadership coaching learn communication, project management, and self-awareness, all of which are relevant to the organization's smooth operation. Having a coaching culture has been shown to improve performance.
  • Employee retention: hiring the right talent is both competitive and taxing. The investment of money, time and effort can take a toll on the company’s finances when it is too often. Employees are more likely to stay where career development is possible.
  • Loyalty: When an organization makes employee personal development a priority, it sparks a zeal within the employee to give their best and stay loyal. They want to give back to the system that has benefited our growth.
  • Healthy workplace: People thrive in environments free of hostility. Leadership coaching allows feedback, a tool very necessary for development. When employees know they can come to managers with their concerns and talk about performance without fear, it creates a safe place for them. So there is no anxiety or resentment.

For Individuals

  • Improved communication skills: Leaders who undergo coaching often find that their communication skills improve significantly. This helps them build better relationships with their team members and improve their overall effectiveness as a leader.
  • Greater self-awareness: One of the most valuable benefits of leadership coaching is that it helps leaders to develop greater self-awareness. This allows them to identify and overcome personal challenges more effectively, making them successful leaders.
  • Clarity of purpose and vision: it helps leaders to develop greater clarity of purpose and vision. And leaders with clarity of purpose and vision inspire and motivate their teams more effectively and increase their sense of job satisfaction.
  • Time management: Successful leaders make conscious and judicious use of their time.

Who should participate in a leadership coaching program?

From C-suites executives down to entry-level employees, everyone stands to benefit from coaching. However, leadership coaching programs are most beneficial for individuals in leadership positions or who have the potential to assume leadership roles in the future. 

Hence, priority should be given to certain individuals, such as:

High Potential Employees: It is only normal that high flyers within a company will participate in leadership coaching. These types of individuals already show great promise in performance, so further investment in them is a win for the company. Employees with a track record of success, adaptiveness, self-awareness, and leadership capacity are candidates to consider. A study by SHL has shown they are:

  • 2x more valuable than the average employee
  • And 3x more likely to succeed as the company’s future leader.

Managers: Managing people isn’t an easy task. Managers must frequently improve their people management skills to do their job effectively. Since managers work directly with people, priority should be given to them so they can effectively manage teams and departments. Coaches help managers learn team dynamics and team-building communications and provide them feedback.

Existing executives: individuals at the helm of affairs should also be prioritized. A single decision from them can alter the trajectory of a company, so leadership coaching is necessary to strengthen them and help them change traits that might negatively impact the business. Executive coaching develops strategic thinking, emotional intelligence and self-awareness so leaders can make the right decision even in times of uncertainty.

Should you use internal or external leadership coaches for employees?

Deciding on the coaching method depends on a variety of factors. What you hope to achieve, the amount and the level of the individual needing the coaching should be considered.

Internal coaches work in the same organization as their clients and will often target individuals at the beginning of their leadership journeys. So, typically the coach and coachee connect on a personal level, as they are accessible. It also has a specific number of sessions with a deliverable. The thing about this option is that it is cost-effective, and the coach understands the company’s culture

External coaching, however, has the exact skill set and expertise that matches the client's needs. Most external coaches work with executives and other leaders high on the leadership ladder. 

The business environment is constantly changing. The need you are trying to meet within your organization will inform your decision. If you need an individual who will constantly be on the ground, then an internal coach is best, but if you want a coach who works with c-executives, an external coach will be preferable.

4 Examples of introducing leadership coaching at work

There are various examples of leadership coaching that organizations can implement in their workplace.

Assigning new managers a buddy

This system of leadership coaching involves pairing new hires with more experienced individuals. The buddy, usually a more experienced employee, is matched with new employees to render support, guidance, and friendship. 

Sometimes starting in a new role can be overwhelming, going through a great onboarding, and what is better than a friendly face whom you can go to with questions? One way to make this strategy effective is by pairing individuals with complementing attributes.

Focused mentorship between executives and high-potential employees 

In every organization, there are high-potential individuals whose work ethics and performance are over the roof compared to other employees. These kinds of individuals are also looking for means to improve themselves. 

Creating a mentorship program between high-potential employees and executives helps prepare them for future leadership roles. The mentorship is usually focused on specific goals and objectives.

Mentoring circles between high performers 

A community of like-minded people is an effective way to build leaders. This coaching method brings together individuals from different levels and with different competencies, so there is a wide variety of knowledge and skills that mentees can pick up, sometimes even without a one-on-one sitting with the individual. 

Hosting leadership sessions with external coaches

One distinct thing about external coaching is the expertise such coaches possess. They come with industry-specific skills that will match an organization's needs. 

External coaches carry out their responsibilities objectively, as they do not bear any expectation of an internal agenda. Using this method at work does a lot of transformational learning.

Are you ready to start a leadership coaching program?

The essence of leadership coaching is performance improvement from the company’s perspective. And as performance improves, so does the organization. 

Also, it helps build leaders who will not only walk the talk but also build a coaching culture for future leaders. 

Our article on leadership mentoring programs helps you get started if you are ready to start a leadership coaching program. In addition, Together offers a variety of resources and services that can support your organization's leadership development journey.

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