The coach leader style is an optimal leadership style for developing the autonomy of your team members and promoting learning through (supervised!) mistakes.
First you must know that being a leader or executive coach is not being a professional coach! That said, you can use powerful tools from professional coaching and add the coaching approach to your toolbox.
In this article we will see what a coach is, in which context the coach leader style is the most appropriate and three tools to put it in place.
What is a coach?
In English, a coach is a type of bus for traveling over a long distance.
Neither the driver nor the bus decides the route for you. At some point you decided to go somewhere, chose your transport company, bought your ticket, all in the hope of getting to your point B successfully!
A coach is a person who accompanies you from point A to point B. In professional coaching, point B is decided by the coach. In business, your manager and you probably have an agreement on point B. This is generally what emerges from performance evaluations! Several “B” points to reach!
And a coach leader?
A leader or brain coach can use certain tools coming from professional coaching to create autonomy and motivation in his team. He agrees not to have answers to everything, or to always give the answers even if he has them. He accepts that there is a process of learning, trial, and error, while having a clear goal in mind.
For example: if a person on your team wishes to obtain a more senior position, the manager will gradually leave more room for this person, while managing the risks and offering a clear framework, according to an established objective.
In what context is the coach leader style appropriate?
The coaching style of leadership is appropriate when a person is motivated to learn, wants to grow and there is a goal to achieve.
These elements are key: 1-motivation 2-goal and clear results to be achieved.
If you don’t have that, the tools below won’t lead to the results you want.
Now let’s see what tools from professional coaching you could use.
How to be a leader coach? Three tools.
A leader coach asks more questions than he answers!
Tell yourself that when someone comes to ask you a question, they often have an idea of the answer! We generally observe a need to validate or discuss a possible solution rather than a need to have the solution.
Foster autonomy and accountability by asking more questions.
You receive a question like:
- What do you think I should say to such a client?
- What are the priorities this week?
I invite you to answer with another question:
With the information you have, what would your answer be?
Let me know the priorities you see, and we’ll see what adjustments to make next.
In many cases, the person’s answer will be correct, and you just must thank them for their question.
This is not trivial. You will create a sense of motivation and confidence.
You make a request to someone on your team. To make sure the person understands and has everything under control, you can ask any of these questions:
- How are you going to get it all done by the deadline?
- What are your steps?
- What is your game plan for this case?
- If you need help and I’m not available, how can you find the answers?
A person makes a mistake. Be curious. Ask:
- What happened?
- What do you learn from this? (The leader coach is there to allow the other to learn)
- What will you do to avoid repeating this error?
- What could you teach others to save them time and avoid this mistake?
A person is stuck in a task or folder, try:
- What exactly is blocking?
- How can you get around this?
- What options do you see?
Favor open questions, those that require developing an answer.
Listen and reflect
To adopt a coaching style, listen more than you talk. The more you listen, the more you will observe situations that repeat themselves and offer reflections easily.
Before giving a reflection (feedback on what you observe), always ask permission. This will create openness in the other, that the other will really listen to you more.
“Will you allow me to give you feedback? can work wonders!
Examples of reflections
I don’t know if you noticed, but each time you work with such person / or on such type of file, you have more questions. Did you notice?
If so, continue with “What do you need to be able to manage their files more smoothly?” »
You often ask me the question about clarifying your priorities and it blocks you in your work when you don’t get the answer quickly. What could be put in place so that you have easier access to the answers and can move forward more easily?
A reflection always ends with a question. You can ask the person to validate your perception or share a solution.
What is the best way to learn? I often say that you can read books on learning to ride a motorcycle, but only by riding it will you really learn all the nuances and gain confidence.
The theoretical learning only does not have a great impact in the specific one. A coach knows it. That’s why it propels you into action between each coaching session.
As a leader coach, your role is to leave space for the other to learn, but these actions can very well be suggested by you, if they serve the objective (point B) and are accepted by the other.
Example: Let’s say you are coaching someone to delegate more. Give him a mandate to delegate a task to someone you trust this week and get back to you with the result. If the person doesn’t know how, give them your best tip, and ask them what they could try! And little by little, you invite him to delegate more, then you ask him what his next step will be and finally the person will be autonomous on this objective. Unlike telling someone to delegate to each of their performance evaluations, but without support… you will get results by promoting action and following up on what you have said to yourself!
The coach style of leadership is a style in which the leader invests in learning from people, developing their strengths and resolving their weaknesses. Its goal is to grow and promote autonomy.