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We have all met and encountered leaders somewhere. At work, in a social club, in a sports team and in many different contexts. Leaders who are paid or who are leaders because they are passionate about it. But there is even more leadership that we don't normally think about — at home and in our professional lives.

Coaching leadership – developed leadership

We most often think of leadership when it is about a leader or a manager or possibly a leader of athletes or a sports team. We don’t often think about what it means to be a leader outside of those parameters. Nor do we think about that leadership is involves so much more than managing others.

Leadership is at least as important when it comes to leading ourselves — Self-leadership. You can read more about this in one of our many other articles on this important topic.

In this article, we examine what coaching leadership is and how, through this insight, you can also choose to develop further in your coached leadership with the help of our coaches.

What set our therapist apart was her genuine empathy and personal insight. Not only did she possess a deep understanding of neurodiversity, but she also shared personal experiences that resonated with us, creating an instant connection and fostering a sense of trust!

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Leadership in history

The world is changing and so is leadership. If we look back in history, a leader has either been one, or possibly several, who were either elected as leaders or appointed themselves as leaders. Therefore, it is difficult to separate different functions. As a result, the term leader has also been merged with the term manager.

Of course, the same person can be both a leader and a manager. However, we previously made no distinction between the two. Both meant a person who was higher up in the hierarchy or a person with a lot of power. Someone who could point with the whole hand and everyone obeyed.

A changing world for leaders

Today, we increasingly distinguish between the concepts of leader and manager. The labour market we have today and, above all, the workplaces and their organization we have after Covid-19, among other things, require different things from managers and leaders. Employees may no longer be on site but work partly at home or are placed elsewhere. For example, a 2024 report carried about by the Stepsone Group found that “47pc of Irish jobseekers have revealed they would refuse a job offer if the company did not have hybrid or fully remote working policies in place”. In addition, we are more likely to change jobs today if we are not happy, committed and have clear communication with management or colleagues.

Of course, the same conditions also apply to the world of sports, although the team needs to be in the same place to train together. But leadership requires a bit more than hand-waving and raising your voice.

Coaching leadership supports the individual, who then becomes more concerned with making the group work. A functioning and committed group creates meaning and cohesion; this in turn leads to many people choosing to stay at their workplace or association.

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Manager or leader?

Both. It is simply a matter of two different functions. They intersect from time to time, but they still have their different meanings. Many times we think that they are one and the same thing, but it’s all about what priority you have to base your function on. Some situations and tasks require you to be a manager. In others, we need to take the leadership role.

What is a good manager?

When this question comes up, a common answer 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 or any other constellation. It’s about protecting the interests of the organization. There are goals that have been set and are to be achieved. It is also important that the finances are sustainable and preferably thriving.

In addition to this, the established rules are important to follow and the manager’s role is to ensure that they are known and that they are followed. The manager may be the one who we carelessly say should point with the whole hand.

So what is a leader?

If you think of a scout leader, or perhaps a choir leader, or possibly a sports leader, the role of the leader may become clear. This is the person who looks after the whole group. The whole team, team, family should work together and pull in the same direction. The leader has a vision and, through their leadership, must create commitment and motivation in the group to develop and achieve goals.

There are individuals in the group and it is also these individuals who are valuable – each one – for the group to function. This is one of the tasks the coaching leader needs to understand, to also protect the individual in the team.

We sometimes talk about lead by example – but this does not necessarily mean that the leader is the one who leads by example. It can just as easily be about highlighting individuals as good examples for others to follow. Good leaders make it possible for employees or athletes to feel joy and desire to continue.

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Coaching leadership crosses the threshold at home

Coaching leadership applies just as much at home at the kitchen table or on the TV couch. Authoritarian parental leadership will soon be a thing of the past. We don’t want to be feared by our children. They shouldn’t obey because we have the power to tell them what to do. Our wish is, of course, that they grow up to be thinking and responsible individuals.

As a parent, you can exercise coaching leadership or take a more coaching approach. This will give children more opportunities to develop according to their abilities. It also gives them the chance to influence the development of the family. This in turn strengthens their self-leadership and self-confidence.

What does coaching leadership mean to you?

Coaching leadership and a coaching approach is a way of looking at cooperation and development. What it looks like for you and what you need to use it is something you can explore together with our coaches. Together you will find out what coaching leadership can look like in your particular situation.

We don’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, in an association 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. Increased self-confidence and co-creation are also prerequisites for success.

Why is coaching leadership important?

Coaching leadership promotes employee or 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, staff turnover is lower than in other companies.

What are the most common techniques in coaching leadership?

The most common techniques are – as mentioned above – open questions, active listening and feedback. In addition, leadership creates a culture of reflection, encouragement and challenge.

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 and explore with them what your needs are and how and in what situations you can practice and apply the principles.

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 customization 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 working with 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 on how the conflict was resolved and how the parties want to take the lessons learned into future cooperation.

How can you practice coaching leadership as a parent?

As a parent, we want our child to grow into an independent individual who can make their own decisions. 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. When children reach school age, for example, it is better to focus on the child’s own experience, e.g. a test situation or some other situation where he or she has prepared. This means not being primarily interested in the result – the score or whether it was passed. Focus on what the child is happy with and why they are happy with it. You can then consider whether there is anything the child would have liked to do differently. And if so, in what way. After that, you can explore what the child learned from this and how he/she intends to do it next time. By doing this, you as a parent have shown that you are listening to the child, that you are curious about how he or she thinks about his or her learning situation and also what lessons he or she takes with him or her into further studies. It’s easy as a parent to get caught up in yes and no questions, which usually ends up killing the conversation. And the child feels that we are not interested in them and their studies or activities.

Coaching leadership as a success factor

Coaching leadership means choosing a curious coaching approach. Having a coaching approach is the foundation of coaching leadership. 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 their place and be co-creators of success.

By being involved in thinking about problem solutions, answers to questions and choice of actions together with a coaching leader, you grow as an individual. This makes it easier to continue to take the initiative. As a result, joy, commitment and togetherness are awakened. The components that are the basis for success. A success that provides both financial and emotional benefits.

A coaching approach

Whether you are a formal leader or not, you 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. It is about really listening and letting the speaker speak to the point. By doing this, you get information that you can use to support the other person to think further or understand better yourself. In active listening, you need to put aside your own thoughts about solutions and answers. You should try to remain as neutral as possible to what is being said. Of course, this can be difficult if we consider ourselves the expert or think that something is completely wrong. Therefore, it is important to put aside our own pretensions. No one will solve something in exactly the same way as you. We are all unique.
  • Ask questions. Ask, ask and ask. In your questions, the starting point should be to be curious about what is being said. Does the person in front of you understand what they mean by what they are saying? It is important that you are on the same level to be able to move forward. If someone talks about focus – let them think about what is meant by focus for them. Once this has been explored, it is possible to move on to find the answers/solutions because you start at the same point.
  • The questions should preferably be open and above all honest. Open questions are those that do not have a yes or no answer. These are questions where the other party needs to think and explain. Be curious about what, where, who, why, how/ in what way.
    Honest questions are those where you have not thought of an answer in advance – a question where you try to fish out an answer. Your answer. Of course, this is not easy in either the company or the family. But the more you practice, the better you get.
  • Curiosity is the filter above all this. To be genuinely curious is to really want to know and understand how the other person thinks.

In collaboration with your coach, you can get a lot of inspiration for your own coaching approach. This is the basic prerequisite for coaching leadership. Together you explore your needs and situations where you consciously need to use the coaching approach. Based on this, it becomes easier to set goals, create a plan and start being a coaching leader.

Is it time to take the step?

Do you find that there are 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 coaching leadership. This increases your chances of achieving success both personally and professionally. Both for your employees/family members and yourself.

Working with a coach

Through coaching, you gain insights and perspectives that help increase your awareness. The coach helps you explore what coaching leadership means for you. Furthermore, it becomes increasingly clear to you in which situations both you and your employees / members / family members benefit from the coaching leadership. Being seen and listened to is the best fertilizer for commitment and joy. Which then creates success.

In collaboration with the coach, you also explore what knowledge and insights you have about those you lead. These are 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.

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.