Transformative Leadership: How Coaching Drives Success

Digital Bricks Learning Trainer Laura Howard outlines a simple way to maximise employee performance, saving you time and energy. Laura is an organisational psychologist and leadership coach. She’s passionate about helping businesses to develop a coaching culture for greater performance and employee job satisfaction. Keep reading to discover more…

Creating a coaching culture

Are you a CEO or senior leader of a complex organisation? Chances are your time is regularly consumed with unnecessary people issues. Do you dream of an easier way to handle your 1-2-1s with your teams? Do you strive for better employee outcomes, instead of repeating yourself and being met with the same underperformance? Here, I want to share a simpler way to handle your diverse team’s needs.  

There are multiple benefits of implementing a coaching culture as an alternative leadership approach. Traditional leadership involves a few decision-makers situated at the top of the business. Instead, a coaching approach to leadership empowers individuals at every level,  resulting in greater team learning and ownership of business outcomes. Coaching happens throughout all levels of the organisation, tackling traditional hierarchical lines of control that limit organisational networking and results (Vesso & Alas, 2016).  

Not surprisingly, companies with a thriving coaching culture report considerably reduced employee turnover, greater productivity and higher job satisfaction (Kets de Vries, 2008).

How can managers start coaching conversations? 

One of the greatest leadership tools is active listening. Start by paying real attention to team members, then give considered feedback and respond effectively. So, an appropriate question for a problematic situation faced by an employee might be, “What skills did you use last time you faced something similar?” The aim is for the leader/coach to nurture the employee’s self-belief, leading to better performance. 

When managers have mastered simple coaching conversations, the next step is to further develop a coaching culture in the organisation. 

10 key steps to developing a coaching culture

  1. Begin with clearly communicated and firmly agreed strategic objectives that everyone understands.
  2. Ensure that everyone has a clear job role, structured to deliver business objectives. Help employees to fully understand their job role and exact contribution to the overall business aims.
  3. Understand the benefits of a coaching culture and promote these across the Executive team. Get support and begin role-modelling a coaching culture from the top of the business.
  4. Develop a learning framework for managers and leaders to develop coaching skills and get support. Offer training and guidance at regular stages to demonstrate the benefits and commitment to investing in staff.
  5. Create a standard for ethical and principled coaching, including a commitment to CPD, performance and confidentiality.
  6. Enhance psychological safety through effective leadership, particularly by encouraging open communication. 
  7. Enhance your performance management approach via integrating coaching. For example, use coaching to create challenging goals, promote professional development and review performance.
  8. Evaluate the impact of coaching over traditional management. For example, customer outcomes, employee retention and employee happiness scores. Explore how to increase outcomes over time with periodic evaluation and improvements.
  9. Highlight stories and examples of coaching in internal communications. Promote the benefits to the company and individuals, specifying why it uniquely benefits those involved.
  10. Evolve hiring practices to recruit and reward behaviours aligned to the organisational strategy and coaching characteristics.

Final thoughts…

My final advice is to explore a coaching style versus a traditional managerial one when leading high-performance teams. Change may be slower than anticipated, but it’s worth persevering. The most notable results will be in organisations that challenge and reward creative and innovative behaviours, achieving autonomous employees and stronger businesses overall. Organisations with these characteristics are far harder to imitate, leading to an overall competitive advantage. 

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  1. Vesso, S., & Alas, R. (2016). Characteristics of a coaching culture in leadership style: the leader’s impact on culture. Problems and Perspectives in Management, 14(2), 306-318.
  2. De Vries, M. (2008). Leadership coaching and organizational transformation: Effectiveness in a world of paradoxes. Fontainebleau: INSEAD Working Papers Series.
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