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Why Should Your Leaders Become Coaches?

A manager providing business coaching to an employee

What do you think of when you are asked to describe a good leader?

Someone who motivates? A person with natural authority? Maybe someone who shows great resilience? Someone who knows what needs to be done and gets others to do it?

Answers will probably vary based on the leadership we have experienced during our careers.

But what is clearer is that the role of leaders is changing. They are increasingly expected to be less instructional and directive. Instead, they need to be more supportive with a greater focus on interpersonal skills.

In short, employees now want their leaders to be coaches.

Here are six reasons why it is time for your leaders to adopt a coaching style approach to leadership.

Empowers people to get better

There was a time when coaching was typically viewed as a way of correcting something people were doing wrong.

But that image has changed. And it is now more commonly seen as a way of helping those who are already achieving to do even more and develop their talents. And commit to making those changes.

Tienie Loubser, our learning and development director, said: "Coaching has shifted. It is no longer remedial but is about helping high-performers to get better.

"Having coaching is a sign that your employer thinks a lot about you and wants you to get even better.

"Coaching asks the questions that help people to identify blind spots and pushes people to take action to improve. Sometimes we can endlessly talk about doing something differently but not actually do anything about it."

Find answers

As a leader, it can be all too tempting to solve the problems of your team members, overcome challenges for them or instruct them on exactly what they need to do.

And, while it can work in the short term, it creates longer-term issues.

How will team members develop if they are always told what to do? And ultimately, leaders face the prospect of burn-out if they are unable to fully trust those who work for them.

Business coaching enables leaders to bring in a different approach.

Rather than solving these problems, a coaching style empowers employees to step out of their comfort zone to find the answers and make decisions themselves.

And it all comes down to asking questions and being curious.

Leaders should ask questions that enable workers to explain the problem, suggest the solutions and identify the action they need to take.

You can find out more about this on our new online High Impact Coaching course.

Actionable feedback

Regular feedback is crucial.

And while managers can sometimes feel awkward giving it, younger workers, in particular, are keen to regularly hear about their progress.

But, all too often, it focuses on what could or should have gone better. And, on many occasions, that particular horse has already bolted.

But coaching encourages leaders to ask questions that take a more forward-looking approach to feedback and actively involve the employee in the conversation.

So, instead of giving their thoughts on what went wrong – something that can often trigger a defensive reaction – leaders ask questions like ‘what would you do differently’ and ‘what needs to happen next’.

What is particularly good about this method is that the actions feel like they have been identified together, rather than being handed down.

Different people

No two workers are the same. That may sound obvious.

But it is something leaders can easily lose sight of, especially when they are under pressure or have a large team to lead.

And they can fall into a one-size-fits-all approach – not something that tends to lead to a happy and motivated workforce.

Business coaching encourages leaders to carefully consider the different personalities in their team and tailor their communication style.

It enables leaders to be flexible and know they need to talk differently to an employee with assertive, competitive characteristics than one with more precise, perfectionist tendencies.

You can find out more about the main personality categories, and how to manage them, on our new online course.


A common issue with leadership is many managers are not given time to manage effectively.

And, if there are no performance targets on management, it can fall down the priority list.

"I often see a situation where the people management work is done in addition to the day job rather than as part of it," says Tienie.

"What that means is that if people do not particularly like doing it, they do not pay too much attention to it. They will do their one-to-one meetings because it is in their calendar, but they don’t go into it with the mindset of trying to add value or helping their teams to improve.

"I believe businesses should allocate time for managers to manage. But, if that does not happen, business coaching enables leaders to provide better leadership and move away from a command-and-control approach without huge time burdens.

"It gives leaders skills they can bring into almost every conversation to help their teams develop and think differently and independently."

Everyone can do it (with the right help)

It might feel daunting being asked to change a leadership style and embrace coaching, particularly for someone accustomed to telling people what to do.

But it is easier than you might think.

We offer accredited and non-accredited coaching courses (that can be completed online and in-person) that give people the tools and knowledge to coach others.

It will show them how to have formal coaching sessions with their teams and how to bring coaching into briefer, more informal conversations.

Keen to find out more? Get in touch to see how our Institute of Leadership and Management business coaching courses and bespoke training options.

The BCF group has been helping organisations develop their talent, inspire their people and overcome obstacles and challenges for the past 25 years.

We deliver training that makes a difference. Find out more about our business coaching, management training and interpersonal skills options.

Keen to find out more about business coaching? Get in touch to see how our Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) business coaching courses and bespoke training options can help. Or, click here to learn more about becoming a business coach to others.

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