What is the Coaching Leadership Style?

Leadership that includes coaching employees is one of the most prominent qualities found in many entrepreneurs and business professionals alike. Having the ability to lead employees or an entire group of consumers is essential for success in many facets and sectors of today’s society.

Understanding what coaching leadership looks like and how you can incorporate the coaching leadership style into your daily habits can help you drastically change your life trajectory and direction.

Characteristics of Coaching Leadership

Coaching leadership qualities and styles are ever-evolving and evolve quickly to keep up with the times. However, there are a few key characteristics of the coaching leadership style that always stay the same.


Communication is the most important quality of a leader, whether you are working with your employees directly or searching for a new way to connect with new and prospective clients/customers.

Knowing how to communicate effectively is key whenever you are incorporating coaching into your leadership. Communicating effectively can mean the difference between getting a project done right and starting over from the very beginning.

Without proper communication, you run the risk of miscommunicating your needs and losing the interest and commitment of your employees and those around you.


Humility is essential for any leader that truly wants to make lasting and positive connections with employees and those they are helping. Remain humble and welcoming to new ideas, scenarios, and challenges as a leader.


Even if you are not working and leading an industry rife with technology, it is highly advisable to stay up-to-date with today’s latest advancements and technologies. The more tech-savvy you appear to others, the more likely they are to place their trust in your hands as a leader.

Tech-savvy leaders do not need to know everything there is to know about technology and gadgets available. Still, it does help with coordinating plans and sharing developments with employees or those you are currently coaching.


Keeping an open mind is also highly advisable for any leader that adopts a coaching leadership style. While it is just as important to have a logical sense of direction as a leader, it is equally as admirable to keep an open mind, especially when hosting gatherings and allowing others to speak their minds freely about a topic.

Being known as someone who is open-minded can also provide you with more opportunities that otherwise may not have been presented to you or available.

Naturally Curious

Some of the most well-known and influential leaders today have a natural curiosity that never seems to go away. As a coaching leader, maintaining a healthy natural curiosity can help you grow as you explore new adventures and possibilities with those who turn to you for leadership.

Exploring your natural curiosity can lead you to discover new opportunities and potential while inspiring others looking to you for their leadership inspiration.

Team-Player Mentality

It may seem counterintuitive to have a team-player attitude as the sole leader, but this is not true. To truly succeed as a leader, one must always maintain and showcase a team-player mentality.

When coaching as a leader, knowing how to encourage others to work together cooperatively, not competitively, provides the greatest rewards for everyone.

Learning how to navigate group efforts and manage teams of individuals is an integral element of any leader, regardless of the represented industry or market.


Providing empathy and support is an integral part of being a leader in any walk of life. Empathy allows you to understand what someone else may be going through and experience, especially when they are unable to perform or put their best foot forward.

Maintaining your sense of empathy is imperative for growth. It’s crucial to connect with employees before you coach and lead them. And to ensure the overall happiness and mental wellbeing of those around you at all times.

When to Use Coaching Leadership

Using a coaching leadership style can be highly beneficial if you are working to improve your self-esteem and self-confidence. It can also be a useful and effective tool for your leadership and coaching opportunities.

Whether you are in the process of developing a business plan and need a bit of confidence to go through with your idea or if you are currently managing a company with numerous employees who need better leadership, adopting a coaching leadership style might be a good idea.

Changing and Improving Mindset

When an individual sets a goal, they may be focused on reaching their goal and the achievement itself rather than the process of getting there.

Showcasing why it is important to have a learning or growth mindset is fundamental when coaching as a leader.

Coaching others can help them see the value in focusing on the journey and their mindset throughout a challenge, so they are more self-aware and cognizant of their decisions as well as their emotions involved in the process.

Changing Perception

Getting stuck in a rut often occurs when individuals’ own perception of themselves or their projected perception of others is skewed. Using a bit of coaching in your leadership, it is possible to improve one’s own view of themselves while allowing them to realize they still have control over their lives and future.

Feeling Stuck in a Thinking Trap

At times, it is not uncommon for leaders or entrepreneurs to feel stuck in their own minds, willing to risk it all or make impulsive decisions. When an individual is stuck in a thinking trap or unable to find solutions to a serious problem, coaching leadership can help.

Feeling Pressured and Overwhelmed

Completing projects and getting the job done right can cause any leader to feel immense pressure and, at times, feel entirely overwhelmed. A leader with the right coaching leadership style can prevent themselves from falling into thinking traps or getting stuck in their own mind.

The right leadership mentality will prevent you from giving in to the pressure and will, instead, help you to battle the pressure you are facing head-on. Learn how to evaluate, plan, seek out resources, and constantly change goalposts as an effective leader.

Cultural Barriers and Differences

In some cases, you will encounter cultural differences while working on projects across different departments and even when working with other companies based in various locations. Adopting a coaching leadership style can help with assessing situations, mentoring, teaching, and coaching employees along the way.

The Benefits of Coaching Leadership

Adopting the coaching leadership style at work can be extremely rewarding and beneficial for personal and professional reasons.

Improved Self-Awareness

Using the coaching leadership style, or CLS in the workplace, is a great way to improve the self-awareness of all managers, leaders, and individuals in charge of others.

Teaching others to use their coaching rather than authoritarian skills is a way for everyone to keep their actions, reactions, and responses in mind.

Long-Term Sustainability

Coaching in the workplace is a great way to incorporate an effective leadership strategy with long-term sustainability.

Due to the engaging and positive aspects, you are not likely to turn away employees and those you intend to teach along the way.

More Creative Solutions

Coaching leadership styles provide room for more creative and innovative solutions. When your leaders are open-minded and willing to listen to new and unique solutions, there is more potential and room for growth.

As leaders become aware of the challenges they face, keeping an open mind can provide great results.

More Engaged Employees

As a leader, having employees that assess and resolve their own problems is a way to alleviate your own pressure while assisting those you are leading with their growth.

Employees who feel encouraged, rather than stuck in a rut, are more likely to remain engaged with projects, tasks, and even problems that arise throughout.

Improved Workplace Confidence

Incorporating coaching leadership styles into the workplace is an ideal way to boost your employees’ self-confidence, self-worth, and self-esteem.

When your employees feel confident about themselves and their work, they are much more likely to remain active participants at their jobs and with their tasks.

When you have a group of employees who feel proud of their work and their abilities, they are more likely to share their ideas and remain motivated. Confident employees will also be more apt to brainstorm creative and innovative solutions when in need.

Increased Empathy in the Workplace

While it is important to conduct business as usual while meeting deadlines and satisfying customers, it is also important for leaders to help their employees feel welcomed and appreciated. Increasing empathy in the workplace can help your employees take on a team-player mentality in less time.

When a workplace is supportive, welcoming, and understanding, employees are more likely to work cooperatively with others rather than competitively. Reward team efforts and communication with your coaching. Highlight the positives of being more empathetic in the workplace to keep the environment happy and positive.

Supportive Environment

Providing your employees with a supportive and coaching environment is more likely to result in satisfied employees overall. When employees feel they can be themselves, offer creative solutions, and share their own thoughts without judgment, they are much more likely to remain motivated and involved.

Build Trust

A key component of any great leader is trustworthiness. If you are not trusted by your employees or those who work with you, it becomes increasingly challenging to complete projects or get work done in the right manner. By implementing a coaching leadership style into the workplace, you will build trust with those who work with you daily.

Use your coaching leadership style to teach others how to hone in on their work and improve their skills in a positive and healthy way. By providing others with additional useful skills and abilities that can help their careers, they are much more likely to trust you as their leader in the workplace.

Improve Employee Retention

If you are seeking ways to improve your employee retention rate, adding more coaching to your leadership might work well. It is a great way to appeal to employees who have a growth mindset and are eager to learn.

When you offer to coach, over dictating, it is much easier to keep employees happier and satisfied with their positions altogether. Employees will be more motivated to stick with your company or business as they continue to learn and grow.

The Challenges of Coaching Leadership

As with any leadership style, there are a few challenges that come with the coaching leadership style that should be kept in mind. If you manage an office or workplace and notice resistance, there may be underlying reasons or issues that require addressing to ensure a smooth operation.

More Time and Effort

Implementing a coaching leadership style in the workplace sounds promising but does require much more time and effort from both leaders and participants and those learning.

Coaching is not a quick process and will require commitment from all involved parties, whether on the teaching or receiving end.

Extended Delivery Times

Whenever you use a coaching leadership style in the workplace, it is important to remember that there will likely be many more delays. When you are working on a tight deadline, using a coaching leadership style is not always optimal.

Coaching requires more time, which may result in delays and the lengthening of deadlines.

Leaders Also Require Ongoing Training

When individuals are promoted into a position of leadership and power, they may not feel as though they require additional training or education.

However, the coaching leadership style encourages all of those participating to keep training and learning at all times. Some of your employees may be less than thrilled about needing to take additional leadership courses or training for the future of their careers.


As a leader, you will encounter many individuals who do not wish to work with you or mesh well with your preferred leadership style. One risk you face when incorporating the coaching leadership style into your workplace is resistance, even from employees and managers who already work with you.

It is not uncommon to face resistance when pushing a new form of leadership, especially when it entails coaching and providing additional teaching and training. Showcasing the benefits of the coaching leadership style may help to sway those who are resistant to the idea to help streamline your coaching sessions and exercises.

Personal Issues

In some instances, it is not uncommon for an individual to resist a coaching leadership style that requires more participation or effort on their behalf.

This may be due to underlying anxieties or fears and the lack of motivation they have at the time. You may also struggle with an employee who is unfamiliar with the concept.

If a staff member is worried about receiving negative feedback or has deep-seated fears of rejection, they may try their best to avoid coaching leadership training at all costs.

If you have an employee who is unwilling or unable to participate in various activities and exercises, you can try to work with them in a one-on-one setting.

Examples of Coaching Leadership

Implementing a coaching leadership style into any workplace is not a new practice, but it can be beneficial and rewarding for several reasons.

Some of today’s largest companies and brands use coaching leadership styles to attract, reach, and communicate with employees and those in charge of various departments of the business itself.


Microsoft has not always been run in the same manner as every other company. When Satya Nadella was named as Microsoft’s new CEO, he decided to take a new approach to address the culture in the workplace.

Nadella implemented his coaching leadership style and shifted the workplace mindset to a “learning” environment, rather than an environment in which everyone is a “know it all.”

Nadella helped to shift the company’s own culture by providing a space where others shared ideas without judgment.


Those working for the international management consulting company have all undergone coaching leadership training. Coaching leadership training is promoted for all members of the consultancy group, as it helps individuals better respond to clients, unexpected problems, and even ill-defined issues.

Take-Home Message

Long gone are the days of dry and autocratic dictatorship in the workplace.

Since the days of the traditional 9-5 workplace complete with the “command and control” leadership style, many more leadership styles have proven much more effective.

Incorporating a coaching leadership style into the workplace is one highly effective solution.

Coaching leadership is a way for you to help others lead while also improving your leading abilities, both in and outside the workplace.

Using coaching leadership for your hangups and struggles is also a way for you to gain hands-on experience as you tend to your natural skills, abilities, and leadership qualities.

About the Author
Hi there, I'm James, founder of Melbado. I have over 20 years of experience as a leader and entrepreneur. Recently, I turned to leadership coaching and writing to pass on my knowledge to the next generation. If you have any questions or comments, please contact me via our contact page.


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