The Coaching Style of Leadership – Part 1

Last time we discussed the difference between being an “Individual Contributor” and a Leader.  This week we begin examining various leadership styles.

Research teams and authors on leadership often attach their own names and descriptions / definitions to refer to a range of leadership styles. No matter the variance in terms, the references all encompass a consistent theme, which is that there are both positive and negative aspects related to leadership styles.  It’s important to keep this in mind as leadership is often situational.

Sometimes an otherwise negative leadership style might be appropriate in a crisis situation for example.  Maintaining a flexible approach to leadership is one important way to contribute to your success as a leader.

For this discussion, I would like to refer to one particular leadership style discussed in the book entitled, “Primal Leadership” by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee.  It’s also discussed in a Harvard Business Review article entitled, “Leadership That Gets Results” by Daniel Goleman.  It’s called the coaching style of leadership.

The coaching style of leadership is important at any level of an organization because coaching means you are focused on developing the people who work for you.  They are the future of your organization—the pipeline for your future leaders.

What is a coach? To better understand the coaching leadership style, you must understand what makes a coach.  If you have participated in a sport at some point in your life, you may have vivid memories of a coach that had a powerful impact on you.

Why? Because a good coach cares about you.  They focus on developing you and your skills.  When you need encouragement, they are there for you, and when you have opportunities to improve your skills they are the ones who show you how.  Coaches can be tough, but that is also another way to show they care. The coaching style of leadership is very similar to coaching sports.  It aligns with an old saying, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Next time, we’ll discuss how this approach to coaching translates to the coaching style of leadership in the workplace.