How coaching can improve your leadership skills

My definition of leadership is that it is a practice where an individual influences a group of individuals toward a common goal and/or destination.

And to influence those individuals a leader must be skilled in:

  • Inspiring
  • Guiding
  • Empowering
  • Developing
  • Challenging
  • Supporting
  • Communicating and collaborating with others

In addition to this, leaders must have great self-awareness, lead by example, lead with less ego, lead with less fear, and build strong and trusting relationships.

When I first started out in leadership however, I had no idea that this is what it took to be a leader.

The only leaders I had been exposed to were much more managerial, you know the old command and control style of leadership and so in my early days of leading I followed suit.

Bossing, controlling, and directing my team. Fixing problems, motivating them via fearful consequences and communicating in a one-way mode.

I wasn’t a complete tyrant, I still cared, my intentions were good, and I integrated my natural strengths of playfulness and empathy but unfortunately this was not enough to get my team fully onboard and achieving well beyond what they were capable of.

Tired, frustrated and stressed beyond words, I sought the help of a coach, not knowing it would change my life and my leadership dramatically.

Coaching, you see, ended up giving me the very thing I was missing – clarity on the principles of good leadership and a communication methodology to model.

There are many similarities between the craft of coaching and leading, both in mindset and approach.

Both involve guiding and influencing individuals toward a common goal, through and around obstacles and challenges as well as developing and empowering others to achieve their full potential.

My coach modelled the skills I was lacking in my leadership. She listened attentively, she asked questions, and she guided me toward the answers.

During our 12-month partnership, I learnt how to build long and lasting relationships and hold others accountable in a supportive way. I learnt how to become curious rather than right, I learnt how to influence and motivate others and I learnt how to identify my blind spots and play to my strengths, including how to help the people I was leading do the same.

So I wonder, what would help you further develop these skills and fine tune your coaching and your leadership capability?