Leading Leaders – Why Coaching is Important | Bailey Balfour
If you are fortunate, there may be a person who comes to mind when you think of the word “leader.” If you’re extremely fortunate, you might even recall a handful of such individuals in your lifetime!
One thing we know for sure is that the leaders that people remember, talk about, and continue to be inspired by, are the leaders who are exceptional at fostering the next generation of leaders.
Choosing the leader that you want to be is reflected in the leaders that you lead. It’s a reflection of your hard work as you nurture them.
What do I mean? Let’s take a step back before moving forward with a deeper understanding of how coaching as a leadership technique enhances our ability to lead and grow other leaders.
What does poor leadership look like?
Leadership requires a specific skill set. It’s not about quick wins or micro-managing. It’s not about task-focused management.
As we rise in seniority, we increasingly find our previous strategies of task-focused management less capable of shifting outcomes as quickly or effectively.
In fact, many leaders who have climbed the corporate ladder burn out because the actions that worked to get them noticed (high results or turnaround) do not hold the same skill set required to drive change when working with people.
When we primarily lead other leaders, the frustrations of not being able to secure quick wins through our own immediate actions can cloud our ability to nurture those leaders who in turn influence their team members who can.
Some leaders also fall into the trap of micromanagement. The increased pressure that comes with micromanagement doesn’t work in building leaders. In fact, it does the opposite. People would perceive you as a poor representation of a leader and would not aspire to become like you!
What successful leadership looks like
Successful leadership is about building an effective leadership team that we often guide and coach. In turn, this builds teams where trust, accountability, and an ability to face new challenges in a volatile environment are part of the fabric of the culture.
We do this by leading leaders in a relational way – modeling the skills they need to successfully lead and cascade the right style of leadership downwards. This is what embedding a culture of great leadership looks like. It starts from the top.
So why is coaching as a leadership skill important?
Coaching adopts a person-centered approach, fostering individuals’ growth and empowering them to devise their own problem-solving strategies. This method nurtures the cultivation of critical thinking encourages reflective introspection on their “self” and hones their leadership skills to inspire others to go through such reflective processes.
Here are other ways coaching can help as you lead your leaders:
Enhances decision-making and strategic thinking
Leaders are routinely tasked with making decisions that have far-reaching consequences. Coaching provides a framework for these leaders to refine their decision-making process. It offers a sounding board for ideas, allowing leaders to weigh their options more carefully and think strategically. A coach helps leaders to step back, assess situations from various perspectives, and foresee the potential impacts of their decisions, thereby enhancing the quality of their strategic thinking.
Builds emotional intelligence
Leadership, especially at higher levels, demands a high degree of emotional intelligence. Leaders need to regulate their emotions, understand the emotions of others, and navigate complex interpersonal dynamics. Coaching helps leaders develop these critical emotional intelligence skills. It teaches them to be empathetic, improves their listening skills, and helps them understand and manage their emotional responses. This is particularly important when leading other leaders, as it fosters an environment of mutual respect and understanding.
Encourages innovation and adaptability
The business world is constantly evolving, and leaders must be adaptable and open to innovation. Coaches encourage leaders to step out of their comfort zones, challenge the status quo, and embrace change. This mindset is essential when leading other leaders, as it sets a precedent for innovation and adaptability throughout the organisation.
Creates a culture of continuous learning and development
By investing in coaching, organisations signal their commitment to continuous learning and development. This is particularly impactful when leaders are the recipients of coaching, as it demonstrates that growth and development are valued at all levels. Leaders who are coached are more likely to coach their teams, creating a ripple effect that fosters a culture of learning and development throughout the organisation.
Builds succession planning and leadership pipelines
Coaching is a critical tool in succession planning and developing future leaders. By coaching current leaders, organisations can prepare them to take on more significant roles in the future. This investment in their development not only benefits the individuals but also ensures that the organization has a robust pipeline of skilled leaders ready to step up when needed.
Enhances communication and collaboration
Effective communication is vital in any leadership role, more so when leading other leaders. Coaching helps refine communication skills, ensuring leaders are clear, concise, and impactful in their interactions. It also fosters better collaboration as leaders learn to value diverse perspectives, lead cross-functional teams, and navigate complex organiSational dynamics.
Foster personal and professional growth
Effective coaching is not just about imparting skills or knowledge; it’s about facilitating personal and professional growth. When leaders are coached, they embark on a journey of self-discovery. They gain insights into their leadership style, strengths, and areas for improvement. This self-awareness is crucial for leaders who are responsible for guiding others. It enables them to lead with authenticity, build stronger relationships with their teams, and foster an environment of trust and respect.
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About the Author
Jean Balfour is Managing Director of Bailey Balfour and Programme Director of our ICF Accredited Coach Training Programmes. Jean is passionate about helping people to have good conversations both at work and at home. She believes that coaching is a life skill and that you never regret learning to coach.