Coaching leadership is a training style that focuses on collaboration, support, and guidance. It is very different from autocratic leadership, which relies on top-down decision-making. Coaching leaders behave like coaches, communicate well, allow creativity, and motivate and allow staff autonomy to make decisions and do good work. Short-term firefighting is replaced by longer-term strategic thinking.
A key element of collaboration is spending a lot of time with the people you train and being clear about the purpose, as well as the long-term goal of the training approach and how you will achieve this goal together. Scaffolding is a term used in education to describe “a variety of teaching techniques that are used to progressively lead students toward a stronger understanding and, ultimately, greater independence in the learning process.” Coaches inevitably become teachers while guiding team members to hone their skills. The best coaches know that their orientation must be gradually reduced in order for each team member to develop a greater sense of autonomy. Team members won't know how well or how badly they're doing unless they get feedback.
Constructive criticism is necessary for your growth. Coaches know how to use the task behavior component of coaching leadership to properly express their feedback. Team members, in turn, are responsive because they know that these comments will help them improve their skills. If the person being trained isn't open to feedback, it's highly unlikely that the coaching leadership style will work. It can't be emphasized enough that feedback is a fundamental part of coaching leadership. Feedback is also an art form.
Coaching leadership is a two-way street. Coaches must be willing to sacrifice their time to motivate team members to hone their skills and become the best versions of themselves. However, team members must also have a high level of self-motivation, especially as the coach begins to give them a greater sense of autonomy. It is very difficult to train a person who is not motivated to improve and grow. The coaching leadership style will only work if team members are committed to the process.
Too much responsibility falls on the shoulders of the leader if they are not. There must be a strong commitment to collaboration and self-development from the beginning of the coaching relationship. The person receiving the training must be motivated to develop and must be willing to receive feedback; both require that prestige be set aside. Failure to agree on the purpose and goal of the coaching process means that you are prepared to fail. The team and the leader must work well together for the coach's leadership style to be effective.
The organization must consider personality, experience and its most pressing needs before deciding who would be the best fit for the position. For tips on how to build rapport, see our articles on Charismatic Leadership and Visionary Leadership, which can be found on our leadership styles homepage. However, to be a coach, you also need to know leadership styles and which one best fits your style. The coaching leadership style is different from other leadership styles, as other styles don't always focus on employee growth. Coaching leadership style focuses on 360-degree feedback, communication, and helping people develop. Just like with a sports team, you want to make sure that every player is better and stronger to ensure that the team wins.
Leadership is increasingly difficult, leading to a variety of evolving leadership styles and approaches. Unless people are confident that they can reach their leaders where they are struggling and need help, the coaching relationship will likely quickly turn into an uphill battle. Even if the coaching advice is not initially accepted by a team, demonstrating that the advice offered is useful will help it eventually be accepted. It may take a little longer than other approaches to see results, but when it comes to performance training styles, it can be very effective, as the team has a responsibility to work together and explore solutions as a whole.
Leaders who choose the training style are able to recognize the main weaknesses of professional development. In addition, employees are more likely to be enthusiastic about the work they do when they know that their coaches are truly committed to their growth and are willing to work with them on their short- and long-term goals. Companies are recognizing the value of this approach and investing more in training leaders to be coaches. Most of those nuggets of wisdom are due to Phil Jackson, the head coach of the Bulls from 1989 to 1998, who led the team to six NBA championships during his tenure.
Leaders who use the coaching leadership style can create a stable and positive work environment. Still, understanding how coaching works requires knowledge about different types of leadership styles and approaches. To get started with coaching leadership style it's important for leaders to understand what makes it different from other styles: collaboration between leader and team members; clear communication; allowing creativity; providing feedback; motivating employees; allowing autonomy; focusing on long-term goals; building rapport; setting aside prestige; agreeing on purpose; working together; recognizing weaknesses; committing growth; investing in training leaders. Coaching leadership style can help teams reach their goals faster by providing guidance while allowing employees autonomy in decision making processes.
It's important for leaders who choose this approach understand its characteristics in order for it be successful.