What Is Coaching Leadership Style? Definition, Example Pros And, Cons

Mashum Mollah 25 October, 2022
Coaching Leadership Style

“Coaching is the most important servant/leadership element in helping people accomplish their goals.” 

Bill Hybels

In a coaching leadership style, there is no chain of command and no downward pressure within a hierarchic structure. Creating a striking contrast with the traditional leadership styles, coaching leadership makes it all about learning, guiding, collaborating, and improving the performances of the employees. 

As coaching leaders, leaders tend to analyze and recognize the strength and weaknesses of the employees. Their process of leading a team of employees goes through guidance, training, and improvement. As a result, the team or the organization gets to leverage the performance of the employees. 

Employees feel heavily motivated under a coaching leader. They are heard, motivated, and guided toward improvement in such a leadership style. If you are curious, I can take you through this leadership style and what it stands for. 

What Is A Coaching Leadership Style?

Background/History Of Coaching Leadership Style

As the term suggests, a coaching leadership style stands for its literal meaning. It is defined as collaboration, empowerment, guidance, and support to the members of an organization. Leaders under this leadership style work to unlock the untapped potential of the employees and, through constant support, teaching, recognition, and guidance, to improve. 

Coaching leaders analyze and understand the strength and weaknesses of the employers. They also guide the members through obstacles and challenges and help them upscale their skills and potential. 

One can see it as the opposite type of leadership style to the autocratic leadership style. In the 21st century, when a strict managerial rule is outdated, a coaching style of leadership puts forward effective potential. This leadership style aims to be the highest performing leadership style setting polished skills and ethics as their important benchmarks.

Background/History Of Coaching Leadership Style

Farshad Asl Quote

Workplaces nowadays do not clearly represent the core of a single leadership style. However, the amalgamation of a few of them often includes a coaching style of leadership. 

Dating back to its origin in the 1960s, it was Paul Hershey and Kenneth Blanchard who defined a coaching style of leadership. Workplaces adopting this leadership style promote the development, practice, and improvement of new skills. Through the improvement of the employees, companies can create and foster a healthy environment within the organization.

Leaders who coach their employees are seen as important assets and valuable mentors. The leaders engage with the members, appreciate and motivate them are often charismatic in their personality. Through the process of constant coaching and improvement, this leadership style may lean towards the transformational leadership style to some extent.

Characteristics Of Coaching Leadership

The base of a coaching style of leadership is characterized by teaching, learning, active feedback, and overall improvement of the employees. Here are some key characteristics of the leadership style–

Mutual Feedback

Bill Gates Quote

All the staff and the leaders appreciate and act upon different constructive feedback. In addition, the management and the teams share feedback mutually under the coaching leadership style. 

Effective Communication 

Paul J. Meyer Quote

Leaders following a coaching style of leadership are great communicators. They have to frequently engage with the employees and share skills and ideas. Good listening skill is also part of effective communication. 

Opportunity For Growth and Success

Bill Hybels Quote

Employees can use their strengths and skills to improve their skills and create a pathway toward success. An effective yet deliberate delegation is present in coaching leadership. This opportunity leads the employees to think creatively.  

Partnership And Collaboration

John Maxwell Quote

Leaders empower, encourage, and motivate employees to collaborate in the work platform. Partnering in different projects helps employees improve their skills. As a result, collaboration is important in this leadership. 

Belief In Potential

Charles Schulz Quote

Leaders analyze and monitor the skills of the employees. They understand the weakness and strengths of the employees. They recognize the employees and believe in the potential an employee might not see in themselves.

Learning & Development

Benjamin Franklin Quote

Coaching leaders create more room for learning and development by encouraging employees to learn and improve their skills. Employees can master multiple skills working in organizations that follow such skills. Employees can develop themselves both personally and professionally by working in such organizations.

Read More About Servant Leadership

Coaching Leadership Style: What’s Good…And What’s Not So Good?

Even though coaching leadership style helps improve a workplace, leaders should go through the pros and cons before applying it to their respective organizations. Here are some positive and negative sides of this leadership style –

The Benefits Of Coaching Leadership Style: Pros

John Wooden Quote
  • Leaders and mentors following the coaching style of leadership promote mutual communication and collaboration. 
  • Frequent and adequate constructive feedback helps employees reevaluate themselves.
  • Employees are aware of the level of expectations the leaders have for them. 
  • It can create a competitive advantage. 
  • This leadership style can turn weaknesses into strengths. 
  • Individuals get more scope to develop themselves both personally and professionally. 
  • Coaching leaders are more supportive than judgemental. 
  • Organizations following this leadership style create room for growth, improvement, and out-of-the-box thinking. 

The Disadvantages Of Coaching Leadership Style: Cons

John Maxwell Quote
  • Coaching leadership requires lots of time and energy and is resource intensive. 
  • Results are not always the fastest and most efficient. 
  • Companies following high-pressure and result-oriented management will have a hard time adapting to this leadership style. 
  • Coaching leaders need to develop a skilled leadership style. 
  • Mentoring the employees might not be the best approach all the time. 
  • Solutions to Different situations and improvement of different skills might require more leaders. 

Coaching Leadership Style: Case Studies (Examples)

You should go through the way these two leaders have handled their positions. They set great examples as coaching-style leaders. 

Satya Nadella, Microsoft

Satya Nadella

Nadella was the CEO of Microsoft, and his arrival at Microsoft helped the company get out of a period of stagnation. His constant encouragement to the employees to embrace a mindset of growth helped the organization grow. Employees could count on him to answer their questions and give them feedback and answers. He brought about a shift in the work culture of Microsoft. He was also responsible for transforming the work environment of Microsoft into an innovative and successful environment. 

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook

Sheryl Sandberg

Through constant encouragement to learn and develop, Sheryl created a high benchmark for her team on Facebook (presently known as Meta). As a coaching leader, she never denied offering the resources necessary for the achievement of the company goal. She set a good example of a coaching leader by regularly encouraging the employees and giving them feedback and criticism. 

How To Develop A Coaching Leadership Style?

Having minimum (important) downsides, the coaching style of leadership offers massive potential for leaders. It is unlike anything we see in bureaucratic leadership style or autocratic leadership style. 21st-century workplaces work well under this leadership style. Here are a few key components leaders need to master if they want to develop this leadership style –

Giving Feedback

Giving Feedback

As a coaching leader, you must give effective feedback to the employees. They should be able to clearly comprehend and act upon the feedback from their leaders. That is why it is necessary for the feedback to be clear and straightforward. Creating a flow of regular constructive feedback can help you improve as a leader as well.

Growth Promotion

Growth Promotion

Individuals don’t get reprimanded for short-term failures or mistakes. Leaders following such leadership styles are focused on long-term results. With a growth mindset, leaders following this style promote growth among employees. As a leader, you should offer room for growth and improvement of skills among the employees. 

Ask Relevant Questions

Ask Relevant Questions

Asking questions is one way to develop yourself as a coaching leader. A coaching leader does not order their team members around. They ask questions and offer room for learning and improvement. Asking questions can also involve a feedback session and create opportunities for creative thinking. It is also a process for building good communication, room for collaboration, and making effective decisions

Balance Out Criticism And Appreciation

Balance Out Criticism And Appreciation

As a coaching leader, you might have to offer criticism through feedback. You should be able to provide feedback that helps the employees. They should be able to understand the areas where they need to improve and where they have performed well. A one-on-one conversation proves helpful in such a situation.

You can keep the tone of criticism as a constructive one by starting off with the positive sides. But, you should also give them the honest truth about the area that needs improvement. You must make sure that the transition toward the negative part of their performance is not way too harsh. Genuine, comprehensive criticism and appraisal are necessary for both employees and leaders.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Even a partial adoption of the coaching style of leadership can prove helpful for an organization. Here are some relevant questions and answers you might want to read-

1. Who Are Coaching Leadership Examples?

When noting down the examples of coaching leaders, Dale Carnegie would be a good classic example. This leadership is all about leaders teaching, improving, and motivating employees. Some modern examples of it would be Sheryl Sandberg and Satya Nadella.

2. What Are The Three 3 Basic Coaching And Leadership Styles?

In coaching or leading, the three most prominently used styles include autocratic, democratic, and holistic. All of these styles have their respective pros and cons.

3. What Is The Leader Characteristic Of A Coaching Leader?

The main characteristics of a coaching leader include 
1. Collaboration
2. Empowerment
3. Giving feedback
4. Fulfillment
5. Understanding

Is Coaching Leadership Effective?

Skills and capabilities are indispensable. A coaching leadership style can help employees gain new skills. They can grow their career with their newly acquired skills. Also building and improving employees’ skills also help companies to leverage from it. Coaching leaders can boost the performance of an organization through regular feedback and constructive criticism. 

So, is this leadership style effective? Yes, it is effective. Given the time we live in Coaching leadership style is one of the best leadership models organizations should adopt.

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Mashum Mollah

Mashum Mollah is a tech entrepreneur by profession and passionate blogger by heart. He is on a mission to help small businesses grow online. He shares his journey, insights, and experiences in this blog. If you are an entrepreneur, digital marketing professional, or simply an info-holic, then this blog is for you.


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