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We've all encountered leaders in our life, whether they were good, bad, paid, or unpaid. But what does it take to be a leader? What does being a leader mean to you?

Coaching leaders

We usually think of leadership in the traditional sense- a manager or teacher perhaps. However, we don’t often think about what it means to be a leader, or what it entails. And what about the basis of all leadership, the way we lead ourselves?

In this article, we examine what coaching leadership is and how it can help you develop into the leader you want to be, both for others and yourself.

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Leadership in history

The world is changing and so is leadership. Historically, a leader has been defined as a person who commands, whether it be a country, group or workplace. Because of this definition, we often see the term “leader” interchanged with the term “manager.”

Of course, leaders can be managers, and vice versa. However, we previously made no distinction between the two. Both meant a person who was at the top the hierarchy, a person with a lot of power.

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Manager or leader? What’s the difference?

It’s easy to get the two terms mixed up, as they are often used interchangeably. From an organizational viewpoint, managers are responsible for getting a group of people to achieve a specific goal or goals. Leaders, on the other hand, contribute to an organizations overall success by motivating and influencing others to work to a certain standard.

From a broader perspective, leaders support people through their own passion and vision. Whether this is at a high-performing company or a children’s soccer game, leaders are out there motivating and inspiring others.

What makes a good manager?

In short, a good manager is clear, fair and attentive. This means that the manager is impartial and looks out for the best interests of the organization. The organization can be a company, an association, a family, anything. It’s about protecting the interests of the organization. There are goals that have been set and need to be achieved.

So what is a leader?

Think about all of the people in your life that have had the title “leader.” A scout leader, or a choir leader perphaps? This person is someone who looks after a group as a whole. The leader has a vision and is responsible for motivating the group to develop and achieve goals. The leader recognizes that each individual member of the group is valuable, and has their own unique strengths to help the team succeed.

Coaching leadership is a specific style employed by the leader. By identifying every individual they lead’s unique strengths and weaknesses, the leader can adopt an individualized approach to set everyone up for success. This approach does not come naturally, and requires hard work and dedication. We here at Lavendla are here to help!

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Coaching leadership: not just for work

Coaching leadership is for all aspects of life. As a parent, you are a leader to your children. Acting as a leadership coach gives children opportunities to develop and thrive. It also shows them that they have an important role in the family, in turn strengthening their self-leadership and self-confidence.

Coaching leadership can benefit your family, your workplace, and of course, yourself. Researchers at the University of Ottawa recently found that coaching improved not only the professional engagement and satisfaction of doctors, but their overall quality of life as well!

What does leadership mean to you?

Our coaches can help you determine what being a leader means to you. Maybe you want to increase productivity at work? Better motivate your soccer team? Or help your children understand and strengthen their unique skills? Whatever leadership means to you, our coaches are here to help. We won’t say it’s easy, it requires commitment, courage and perseverance. But we will help you make the difficult easier.

7 frequently asked questions about coaching leadership

What is coaching leadership?

Coaching leadership focuses on developing an individual’s potential, whether in the workplace, an organization or in the family. This means using a coaching approach: including active listening, asking open questions, not delivering ready-made answers or solutions, to support the individual towards independence.

Why is coaching leadership important?

Coaching leadership promotes employee/member engagement and motivation. This leads to better performance and therefore greater success. In addition, because coaching leadership provides ample opportunity for constructive feedback and encouragement, it can help decrease staff turnover.

What are the most common techniques in coaching leadership?

The most common techniques are employing open questions, active listening and feedback to achieve your leadership goals.

How can I develop my coaching leadership skills?

You do this by training, education and practicing the principles of coaching in your daily leadership. Of course, a good way to do this is to work with a coach yourself to explore and practice leadership skills.

What are the most common mistakes in coaching leadership?

The most common mistakes are giving too much advice, not listening enough and failing to follow up. In addition, you miss the individualization that is necessary for the individual’s needs and style. Identifying and meeting the individual creates trust and confidence. This leads to the individual being supported in believing in themselves and thus increasing their potential.

How can I use coaching leadership in conflict situations?

The coaching approach and leadership style includes utilizing clear communication and transparency. In a conflict situation, it is about promoting an open dialog. As a leader, you need to listen to both sides’ perspectives and ask open questions in order to help them find solutions. In this way, constructive conflict resolution can take place. In doing so, you can also create a culture of reflection.

How can you practice coaching leadership as a parent?

As a parent, we want our child to grow into an independent individual. We want them to be strong and believe in their own abilities. The coaching techniques of active listening and open questions are important, as are constructive feedback, encouragement and support. By doing this, you as a parent have shown that you are listening to the child, that you are curious about how they think about their situation and also what lessons they take with them.

Coaching leadership as a success factor

Coaching leadership means choosing a curious coaching approach. It is easy for us to answer questions, give tips and advice. But having a coaching approach means that we take a step back. We are curious and want to know if the questioner has thought about the answer or solution to the problem. A coaching leader chooses to let employees, participants and family members take the lead and be co-creators of success.

A coaching approach

Whether you are a formal leader or not, you will benefit from a coaching approach. So what is a coaching approach? Basically, it’s common sense but with a greater awareness of what you are doing.

Several studies conducted by the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC) show that coaching leadership can help improve relationships in the workplace. It increases employees’ ability to solve problems and has a positive impact on learning and development.

  • Active listening is the first component. Putting aside your own thoughts about solutions and answers and remaining neutral, although difficult in practice, engages others in the problem-solving process.
  • Ask questions. Ask, ask and ask. Start from a place of curiosity. Are you understanding what the speaker means? It is important that you are on the same level to be able to move forward. If someone talks about focus, ask them what focus means to them. It’s much easier to find solutions when everyone is on the same page.

In collaboration with your coach, you can get a lot of inspiration for your own unique approach to coaching those you lead. Coaching leadership requires preparation, effort, and practice. Together you and your coach explore your current needs and unique situation, then set goals and create a plan to become a coaching leader.

Is it time to take the step?

Do you find that you are having frequent conflicts or that it is difficult to motivate and engage employees or family members? By clarifying for yourself how you can adopt a more coaching approach, you have taken the first step towards being a coaching leader. Coaching leadership increases your chances of achieving success both personally and professionally.

Working with a coach

Through coaching, you gain insights and perspectives that help increase your awareness. Your coach helps you explore what coaching leadership means for you.

In collaboration with your coach, you will also explore what knowledge and insights you have about those you lead. This is important so that you can meet them where they are and support them in their own development.

In the end, it’s all about putting these insights, perspectives and knowledge into action, so that you and those you lead can reap the benefits!

Lavendla – Making the difficult easier

Written by Ellen Lindgren

Licensed psychologist

Ellen is a licensed psychologist and has experience mainly in clinical psychology where she has worked with various conditions such as stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, crises and trauma in primary care and psychiatry. She has also worked with research while studying in the US and with affective disorders and insomnia at Karolinska Institutet, Sweden.