People who follow the coaching leadership style have one unique characteristic that other leadership styles don’t offer. Instead of showing their direct reports how to do something, or delegating work to them directly, the coaching leader encourages people to try something new on their own.
Coaching leaders help people see how their work fits into the overall big picture. They show their team the different puzzle pieces that are used to put everything together. Then they take a personal interest in helping others maximize their own success. These leaders are successful when their team is successful.
This leadership requires plenty of feedback, both positive and negative, for individual performances. Coaching leaders delegate challenging assignments, while still providing all the tools someone needs to find success. They use their empathy and self-awareness to create an environment which encourages each person on the team to develop their strengths.
Aside from the characteristics of the coaching leadership style, here are the key advantages and disadvantages to consider.
List of the Advantages of Coaching Leadership
1. This leadership style produces a positive workplace environment.
Leaders who utilize the coaching leadership style are able to create a stable, positive workplace environment. That is because the goal of this leadership style is to help others be able to improve their own personal performance. They don’t hold someone’s hand while they do their job. They will provide important feedback to the person to encourage them how to make it through a difficult situation.
2. Employees know what is expected of them.
Coaching leaders don’t hide anything from their team. They share the expectations openly and clearly to ensure that everyone knows what is expected of them. These leaders make sure there are no questions left unanswered before a project is started. This process makes it possible for an entire team to understand what the overall strategy of a project or concept happens to be, which gets everyone onto the same page.
3. It increases the skill set available to the individual worker.
Coaching leadership involves high levels of personal mentorship. These mentoring processes are directly associated with the potential to improve skill competence levels at every level. Not only does this improve productivity levels and the quality of work being performed, it also sets the stage for future leaders to continue using the coaching leadership style when they are able to ascend into a management position.
4. The coaching leadership style can create competitive advantages.
One of the biggest issues facing organizations today is turnover. When companies lose an employee, they are losing someone with soft skills that are difficult to imitate. That is why large training investments are put into the new employee orientation process. When coaching leaders are present, turnover rates go down. More soft skills are retained and enhanced. That makes it possible for a company to attain a competitive advantage in their industry.
5. It makes it easier for a company to endure a time of change.
Some companies go through change when they need to evolve a service or product. Others see change happen all the time because they operate within a fast-paced industry. When the coaching leadership style is present, it is easier for teams to accept changes when they occur. Even if the coaching advice is not initially accepted by a team, proving that there is usefulness in the advice being offered will help it be accepted eventually.
6. Coaching turns weaknesses into strengths.
Leaders who practice the coaching style are able to recognize core weaknesses in the professional development of each direct report. They can then implement a plan of action which addresses these issues, which helps to turn those current weaknesses into eventual strengths. This makes it possible to increase the overall work performance at the individual level. When multiple individuals receiving mentoring, then an entire team or organization can experience increase work productivity as well.
7. It often has a defined beginning and ending.
Coaching leadership is not usually a long-term commitment. Many leadership contracts of this type last for 1 year or less. That is because coaching sessions are most effective when they are brief and targeted.
List of the Disadvantages of Coaching Leadership
1. It takes time for the coaching leadership style to be effective.
The coaching leadership style is one of the least-used management styles in the modern workplace. Leaders aren’t using this option for one basic reason: they don’t feel like they have the time to stop and help others with their own responsibilities. It requires a lot of time and plenty of patience for this leadership style to start producing results. Some companies may not be in a position where they can make such an upfront investment.
2. Coaching leaders must be skilled in leadership.
The effectiveness of a mentoring or coaching relationship is dependent upon the skills of the leader involved. When the characteristics of coaching leadership are implemented poorly, or they are integrated ineffectively, then it can create problems on multiple levels. Without proper skills, there is a greater risk that individuals will receive advice that doesn’t address specific skill development areas, even though the intent is to do so.
3. Mentoring is not always the right approach.
Some situations can be improved by the coaching leadership style. When a coaching leader is forced to work harder than the person being mentored to create results, then you’ve created an equation that will lead to frustration and disappointment. Coaching requires a collaborative relationship. It will not solve universal problems or create quick fixes. If someone is not invested, then a coach isn’t going to change their mind.
4. It requires specific coaches for each situation.
You must be able to find the right leader when wanting to implement a coaching leadership style at the professional level. Great coaches don’t always translate into great leaders for a specific organization. There needs to be chemistry between the manager and the direct reports for this style to be effective. If there’s no trust right at the beginning, then you must move on to the next candidate. Great coaching leaders draw upon their own life experiences and have specific training in this management style. You must be leery of anyone who says they use this style, but does not believe in training or experience for implementation.
The advantages and disadvantages of the coaching leadership style show a number of key benefits are possible. They also show that without good mentoring skills, a coaching leader will be ineffective. There must be time, and plenty of patience, available to allow for the formation of positive results. If time and patience investments are not made, then the mentoring process will not be successful.
Keith Miller has over 25 years of experience as a CEO and serial entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur, he has founded several multi-million dollar companies. As a writer, Keith's work has been mentioned in CIO Magazine, Workable, BizTech, and The Charlotte Observer. If you have any questions about the content of this blog post, then please send our content editing team a message here.