Unlocking Potential Through Coaching-Based Leadership: A Multifaceted Approach

“Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to grow.”

This simple yet powerful statement encapsulates the essence of coaching in the realms of HR and leadership. But how do we incorporate this philosophy into our organisations? More importantly, how can a leadership style rooted in coaching impact team cohesion and ultimately benefit the organisation as a whole?

Developing a Coaching Leadership Style

Coaching is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and a leadership style based on coaching isn’t simply about providing direct feedback or solving specific problems. A coaching leadership style involves active listening, asking the right questions, and facilitating self-discovery. Leaders must be skilled in empowering their employees to self-reflect, identify their own areas for growth, and take ownership of their development journey.

Here are some steps to develop a coaching leadership style:

  1. Be Approachable: Make yourself available and create a safe environment where employees feel comfortable sharing.
  1. Practise Active Listening: Focus on understanding the individual, not just the issue at hand.
  1. Ask Open-ended Questions: Guide the conversation and help employees explore solutions by asking questions like “What do you think might work here?” or “How do you feel about this situation?”
  1. Provide Actionable Feedback: Aim for feedback that is specific, constructive, and immediately actionable.
  1. Follow Up: Show genuine interest in their growth by following up on your coaching conversations.

The Four Focuses of Workplace Coaching

1. New Employees: Encouraging

For new hires, the coaching focus should be on encouragement and orientation. Building their confidence while they adapt to a new environment is key.

2. Development Phase: Supportive

When coaching employees who are in the developmental phase, the approach should be supportive. These are employees who have spent some time in the organisation but are not yet at peak performance.

3. High Performers: Engaging

For high-performing individuals, the coaching approach shifts to keeping them engaged and challenged, helping them to break their own limits.

4. Low Performers: Action-Based

Low-performing employees require an action-based coaching plan that includes clearly defined goals, steps for improvement, and a timeline.

The role of team cohesion

“Team cohesion is the extent to which team members feel connected, committed and aligned with each other’s goals and the team’s objectives.”

In the context of a coaching leadership style, promoting team cohesion is crucial. When a team is cohesive, each member understands their role and how it contributes to the overall success of the team. Through coaching, leaders can instil a sense of ownership and shared purpose among team members, making it easier for the group to tackle challenges collectively.

Why team cohesion is important

When a team is cohesive, it maximises each member’s potential, just as coaching aims to unlock individual growth. This leads to increased productivity, higher job satisfaction, and a more positive work environment.

What happens when team cohesion is not achieved? 

The absence of team cohesion can manifest in various ways, from reduced efficiency to a toxic work environment. Teams without cohesion often see high levels of conflict, poor communication, and low levels of commitment to team objectives. In extreme cases, the team could even disintegrate, requiring HR intervention and even reorganisation.

Coaching as a leadership style does not merely aim to solve immediate performance issues; it seeks to unlock the inherent potential in each individual for sustainable growth. By understanding the different focuses required for new hires, developing employees, high performers, and low performers, leaders can effectively tailor their coaching approach.

Incorporating coaching into leadership not only drives individual performance but can also enhance team cohesion. And in the complex world of organisational dynamics, a cohesive team is often the cornerstone of long-term success. Thus, the simple philosophy that “coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to grow” can be extended to unlock a team’s potential, contributing significantly to achieving organisational excellence.