Coaching is like leadership; it is both an iterative process and a journey. Coaching affects one employee at a time, so it takes time, patience, and a desire to be coached for the employee to develop and improve. Coaching requires two things: a leader who knows how to effectively coach and an employee who is coachable.
Employees own their development. This means they are responsible for taking full advantage of opportunities to develop and grow. Leaders, by contrast, are accountable for their team’s development. Ultimately, the success or failure of an employee falls on the shoulders of the leader. Therefore, it makes sense that that leader should be motivated to coach and develop the employees.
Employees will remember that a company controls their job, but the employees control their own career. Employees should learn, develop, and grow their skills and relationships, because they take these with them if they choose to leave an organization. With this in mind, leaders cannot be concerned if an employee chooses to leave. What they should care about is whether they coached and developed the employee to ensure that she is not leaving because of a lack of opportunity to develop and grow her career.
According to the international consulting services firm Deloitte, “The second management practice that drives engagement is coaching. A coaching culture is the practice that’s most highly correlated with business performance, employee engagement, and overall retention. When new managers are promoted to supervisory positions, they often think their job is to direct or evaluate people. While directed management is important, it plays a smaller role than one might think. It is the coaching and development role of management that is the most valuable.”
But one might ask “What makes a great coach? As Marcus Buckingham describes the role, great coaches understand people’s strengths, move them into positions and rearrange work to leverage these strengths, and coach them to build on these strengths. Nothing makes a person feel better about work than being able to be highly successful.” (Josh Bersin, “Becoming Irresistible: A New Model for Employee Engagement,” Deloitte Review issue 16, January 27, 2015,
Coaching-centered leaders give people autonomy and let them try new approaches and take on new challenges. A culture of fail fast, fail forward allows team members to struggle, grow and develop.
One author reported, “Success does not breed success. It breeds failure. It is failure that breeds success.” (D.G. Kolb, Journal of Management Inquiry 12 (2003): 180-183).
Most leaders seem more comfortable with telling employees what and how to do things. That requires less time than asking the employee probing questions to help them solve their own challenges. Many leaders think this is the same thing as coaching. Coaching is very different from merely telling or providing feedback. Coaching is question-centered and inquiry-driven.
When leaders learn to coach effectively, they open the door to success. They grow and develop their people. They demonstrate that they care about and trust their people. Leaders who take the time to coach develop followers. They build mutual trust and respect. They create and enhance strong, high-performing teams. They maximize productivity, increase profits, and drive revenue!
I would love to see your comments on being a coaching-centered leader! If you like this blog or think someone can benefit from it, share it with your network.
And as always, let me know if I can help you or anyone you know experience the benefits of executive coaching!