In today's business world, the most successful leaders are those who have taken on the role of coach. With constant change and disruption becoming the norm, managers can no longer rely on the same methods that have been successful in the past. Instead, they must provide support and guidance to their employees so that they can learn how to adapt to their ever-changing environment. This shift from traditional command-and-control practices toward a more coaching-based approach has many benefits, including fresh energy, innovation, and employee commitment.
"Rapid, constant, and disruptive change is now the norm, and what succeeded in the past is no longer a guide to what will succeed in the future," wrote Ibarra and Anne Scoular in a 2019 article for the Harvard Business Review. "Twenty-first-century managers simply don’t (and can’t!) have all the right answers...The role of the manager, in short, is becoming that of a coach."
The benefits of a coaching approach to leadership
There are many benefits to adopting a coaching approach to leadership. When employees are given the freedom to adapt and innovate, they are more likely to be engaged and committed to their work. Here are three key benefits of taking on a coaching role:
1) Empowered employees
Coaching enables employees to take ownership of their work and be more proactive in determining the best course of action to achieve results. Coaching leadership empowers employees by focusing on their strengths and development rather than just their weaknesses. This approach helps employees to feel valued and supported rather than criticised or micromanaged. In his book, “Coaching for Performance,” leadership development expert Sir John Whitmore defines coaching as "unlocking a person's potential to maximise their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them."
2) More engagement
When employees are given the opportunity to take the initiative, they become more engaged in their work, which leads to improved job satisfaction and loyalty. Coaching can also inspire employees to step outside of their comfort zones and take on new challenges. This helps develop their skills and knowledge while increasing confidence and motivation. The International Coach Federation's definition of coaching as "a partnership with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximise their personal and professional potential" highlights the importance of engagement in a successful coaching relationship.
Lastly, Leaders who adopt a coaching approach to leadership foster an environment that encourages innovation, creativity, and collaboration. This type of motivational leadership style helps employees feel empowered to think outside the box and develop new ideas or solutions for challenges they may face. Think about the last time you faced a difficult problem. How much more likely would you have been to find the right solution if your leader had coached and supported you rather than just giving orders?
Overall, Leaders who embrace coaching as their primary leadership style benefit from increased job satisfaction, improved productivity, and higher morale among their teams. A coaching approach focuses on developing employees’ skills and knowledge, which can lead to greater success for the organisation as a whole. With the right support and guidance, managers can help their teams thrive in an environment of constant change and disruption.