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The 10 Effective Coaching Skills for Leaders

The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things.

Dr. Paras
Dr. Paras
Jul 25, 2023
The 10 Effective Coaching Skills for Leaders

“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” ― Ronald Reagan

What if we said that you can easily distinguish between a good leader and a great leader in a company? A good leader simply tells their employees what to do. A great leader, on the other hand, works with their team to support overall professional development.

Effective coaching strategies are programmed and implemented to augment a leader’s skills and performance. Honing the right coaching skills for an organization’s leadership reflects on the growth, improves employee morale, and supports the vision and goals of the company.

It is the leader’s coaching skills that quantify the company’s overall productivity, efficiency, and success.

This article will explore the importance of coaching skills for leaders, how they can be implemented in different organizations, and how one can leverage coaching to drive personal growth as a leader.

What are Coaching Skills?

Coaching skills are the imbibed quality that focuses on supporting an individual’s, in this case, a leader’s growth and performance.

Instead of highlighting the shortcomings, coaching skills intrigue questioning among leaders to idealize their vision, find their goals, and then work towards them and their overall improvement. The journey tides through positive leadership skills and optimal teamwork in the organization.


What are the Top Coaching Skills every Leader Should Have?

Now that you know what coaching skills entail, it is important we probe into them in detail. Our list of skills will talk about the 10 effective coaching skills for leaders that support leadership and augment the business’ growth and drive it towards success.

Following are those quintessential skills worth considering:

1. Empathy

“The only way to change someone’s mind is to connect with them from the heart.” – Rasheed Ogunlaru.

Not just in leadership, there’s no alternative for empathy in our day-to-day lives.

Strong and renowned leaders understand the importance of empathy and wire it through every step of their leadership journey.

An empathetic leader prioritizes knowing their team members from an unbiased point of view that is non-judgemental and open. They have the ability to connect to their employees in a manner that isn’t intimidating but welcoming and nurturing.

Great leaders have the ability to use empathy to distinguish the good from the bad, despite the situation and the challenges. They harbor the ability to understand people’s perspectives instead of running out with their own mindset and outlook on the situation.

The empathetic nature of a good leader also reflects on their decision-making skills, even during tough and testing times. An empathetic leader garners respect for their ability to understand their employee’s shortcomings, instead of blaming them for the slightest inconvenience.

An empathetic leader is also someone who makes a conscious effort into knowing their employees on a deeper and more connected level and not just superficially. In order to optimize their leadership, they also learn about the strengths and weaknesses of the employees to assign tasks that make them excel in the workplace.

While you are trying to master empathetic leadership, there’s one book that is a must-read for that - “Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts by Brené Brown.”

It's not your regular boring motivational novel that tells a leader what to do to make things go their way. Instead, it focuses on the habits and the conversations that most leaders are very averted to make.

Common societal standards suggest that leaders are supposed to be “strong, resilient, and fierce.” And, while those traits do elevate the credibility of a leader, there’s more to a leader’s habits than those.

The way Brown explores the concept of vulnerability, empathy, and an optimistic outlook in leadership in her novel is something every leader needs to experience while reading. Besides empathy, the novel also explores the top 7 underrated leadership traits that build better trust and companionship within the team.

2. Transparency

“I think the currency of leadership is transparency. You've got to be truthful. I don't think you should be vulnerable every day, but there are moments where you've got to share your soul and conscience with people and show them who you are, and not be afraid of it.” Howard Schultz

Another crucial coaching skill that every leader should foster is transparency. Instead of beating things around the bush, being dishonest, a good leader is transparent with their employees.

A transparent and honest leader builds trust and fosters lasting relationships with their employees, especially because they work together while being on the same page.

Transparency also translates to open communication in the workplace, which is another crucial coaching skill every leader should integrate into their professional life.

As a leader, how often do you stop and ask yourself, “Am I clear with my communication? Have I clearly explained the values and expectations to my employees? How often do I own up to my mistakes and explain what I did wrong to my team members?”

What kind of answers did you get to the above questions? Your affirmations indicate that you are communicating clearly and with openness, a coaching skill that drives optimal growth in the leadership and workplace.

Let’s talk about Aaron Levie, who is the CEO and co-founder of a popular cloud-based content management system, Box. The company is based out of Redwood City, California. 

Levie is a very popular name in the leadership world, especially among entrepreneurs who draw inspiration from his leadership style and skills.

His leadership skills have gained him immense popularity not just among his employees but around the world too. Box has a total of 150 directors that work independently to propel the company’s growth and take it to the next level of success.

Without fail, every week, Levie gets together with all the 150 of Box’s directors to come together and discuss their weekly progress. In the meeting, they review different areas of the business and find out what’s working and what isn’t.

However, that isn’t all. It is during these meetings that Levie encourages clear and open communication among his employees to find out what they need to do differently and which areas need improvement. It's a simple trait of leadership but we know where Box stands in today’s market valuation.

3. Being Curios

“A relentless barrage of "why's" is the best way to prepare your mind to pierce the clouded veil of thinking caused by the status quo. Use it often!” – Shigeo Shingo.

Even if you are sitting at the top of the ladder in an organization with hundreds of team members working under you, there’s no alternative or stopping to curiosity.

Curiosity drives creativity and change. So, as a leader, if you stop being curious, you will potentially stop your personal growth and development.

Not just creativity, curiosity also encourages inclusion, understanding, and communication. As a leader, you need to be curious every step of the way. Learning what’s contributing to stunted growth or what’s preventing your team members from being at their peak of efficiency is what drives your leadership skills to the peak.

Being curious allows leaders to improve and grow. In short, it allows them to become better leaders than they are today.

When you showcase the constant urge and zeal to learn and be curious every day as a leader, you lead by example. Curious leaders are set on a never-ending journey of growth and evolving. They don’t focus on the end goal. Instead, they keep their learning ears on throughout their journey.

A curious leader also facilitates their team member’s learning as well. They grow as a team and not just individually.

4. Foster Positivity

“People tend to be generous when sharing their nonsense, fear, and ignorance. And while they seem quite eager to feed you their negativity, please remember that sometimes the diet we need to be on is a spiritual and emotional one. Be cautious with what you feed your mind and soul. Fuel yourself with positivity and let that fuel propel you into positive action.” ― Steve Maraboli

Being positive and optimistic is not just a coaching skill for leaders but is a way of life. There’s no success wired with pessimism and negative self-talk.

So, positivity drives the team towards a productive direction. Fostering positivity as a coaching skill in leaders helps them see the best in their team members, find their strengths, and validate their efforts and their support to the organization.

It is in a good leader’s positive outlook and nature that they identify their team member’s unique talents and abilities and harness those individual skills to support others’ professional growth.

Today’s leaders capitalize on the uniqueness of their team members to support the success of others and their own leadership skills as well.

5. Being Persistent

“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” Dale Carnegie.

The word “persistence” often gets a bad reputation and is seen in a negative light. However, it has a completely new definition to it when it comes to leadership.

A strong coach is persistent and stays through the course of activity without backing out. Instead of getting discouraged, a great leader will brave through the shortcomings and guide others towards the path of success.

Their experience allows them to foresee the issues and the probable roadblocks that could come along in the future. Instead of giving up when faced with them, a good leader with a persistent attitude treats these challenges as a learning experience.

This is one of those coaching skills for leaders that shape the attitude of a resilient leader who persists and inspires others to do the same.

It allows the team members or the employees to adapt that resilient and persistent attitude towards the minuscule and bigger challenges and keep working through the difficulties that arise in the situation.

Can you imagine what would have happened if Thomas Edison decided to give up after the failures and rejections he experienced throughout his life?

Pivots and adaptations are pillars of great leadership and Edison is a testament to that. Same goes for Albert Einstein. For someone who struggled with family relationships, Einstein was a true testament of the importance of persistence in work.

What about Elon Musk? The founder of Tesla and SpaceX, who is known for his unique ideas draws his skills of persistence from his negative attitude of consistently undermining his success. 

“I have OCD on product-related issues. I always see what’s wrong…. I never see what’s right. It’s not a recipe for happiness,” is what Musk said in an interview. But, we know where he stands today.

Persistence in leadership creates visionaries that soon become examples that the world follows. As Steve Jobs once said, “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”

6. Prioritize Partnership

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller.

A leader is nothing with their team members. One of the key coaching skills for leaders is knowing the difference between healthy and unhealthy competition.

It is in nature of a great leader to be collaborative and supportive of their team member’s growth. They lead in the front while pulling their team’s and individual team members’ success along with it.

Inculcating partnership in workspaces prioritizes the leaders to partner with their team members for success and not direct them through it.

Being a leader means ensuring that each and every team member is heard and valued in the organization. Instead of having a team question their leader’s decision and motives, they support it because they know that their leader’s steps will push them towards success as well.

Not just between the leader and the team members, the partnership and collaborative coaching skill fosters healthy competition among the team members too. It promotes the team to thrive as a unit and rely on each other for support.

7. Support Innovation

Innovation arises from ongoing circles of exchange, where information is not just accumulated or stored, but created. Knowledge is generated anew from connections that weren't there before.” — Margaret J. Wheatley.

Another one of the most essential coaching skills for leaders is supporting innovation. There’s no stop to creativity, so it isn’t surprising that great leaders abide by that ideology.

Instead of fostering limiting thoughts and being dismissive of new ideologies, a good leader prioritizes innovation.

The easiest way to support this notion is by asking probing and open-ended questions. It's one thing approaching different interactions from a problem-solving mindset. However, including open-ended questions in the equation generates new ideas and innovations with a long-term resolution for the problematic situations.

The easiest way to assess such a situation is by asking, “If there were no restrictions, no budget constraints, what innovations or ideas would I sanction?”

This gives the leaders an idea of the window of possibilities that they are restricting. There’s no point gatekeeping the streak of innovation if it is what drives the car of success.

8. Open Communication

“Effective communication is 20% what you know and 80% how you feel about what you know.”Jim Rohn.

Communication is not just a coaching skill, it is a life skill every single person should foster and include in their day-to-day lives.

Clear communication allows establishing accurate and precise objectives and goals within the team, keeping everyone informed and on the same page.

Defining various objectives in an organization requires strategic planning, which is heavily dependent on one's open skill of communication. Instead of projecting limiting thoughts, a good leader encourages individual members to brainstorm and share their ideas to support long-term personal growth and the overall growth of the organization.

Transparent communication also instills trust and allows every team member to be clear on their expectations. An open-minded and communicative leader also practices active listening to validate their team’s ideas and thought processes.

Active listening also creates an inclusive environment in the organization that also reflects on employee loyalty and retention. Instead of dreading work, team members take ownership of their work and finish them while having fun and feeling validated and welcomed in their workspace.

Let’s talk about John.

Being a dedicated employee in a firm, John works round the clock sorting through his prolonged lines of coding but struggles with one thing - Jenny from the IT department. Despite his constant pleas, Jenny fails to provide John with the required datasets, thereby affecting the workflow.

Frustrated with the situation, John decides to take things up with his team leader, Max. He lets Max know about the problem, asking him for further assistance on the issue. 

Max may invite John for a positive inquiry around the concern raised.

Max: “Thank you for reaching out with your concern. 

Can you elaborate on what seems to be the problem? 

How do you think I can help you with the situation? 

What kind of assistance can I provide you with? 

Would it help if you both have an open dialogue and clarify the issues and work from there?”

Positive Inquiry identifies the conflicts and fosters transparent communication for long-term and effective resolutions.

9. Practicing Involved Detachment

“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” – Bill Gates.

Although a very complicated concept to master, this coaching skill is one of the few that paves the way towards successful leadership.

It is in human nature to become defensive when it comes to questioning their skills and their work. Instead of getting heated at the moment, being accusatory and degrading, a great leader takes this as an opportunity to learn and grow.

Practicing involved detachment means that a leader is fully engaged emotionally but also remains non-judgmental and objective through the situation. Fostering this simple attitude strengthens the bond of trust between a leader and their team members.

This is hands down the most powerful coaching skill for a leader that places them on top of a pedestal because of the respect they earn from their team members.

10. Taking Ownership

“All leaders make mistakes. They are a part of life. Successful leaders recognize their errors, learn from them and work to correct their faults.”John C. Maxwell.

It takes 2 seconds to blame someone and ruin a relationship. Simultaneously, it takes 2 seconds to take accountability with a positive stride and resolve the problem instead of blaming everyone.

A good leader has the ability to know, apply and then teach their team members from their own experiences.

When you are leading a team as a leader, your responsibility doesn’t stop with assigning tasks. That’s merely the start of it.

A good leader works with their employees to celebrate the big wins and then work through the shortcomings.

If a project is finalized and delivered successfully, celebrate the big win with the team. However, when a project falls through, a good coaching skill for leaders is to identify what went wrong. A good leader doesn’t blame their employees for their failure. Instead, they work together to rectify it, so similar issues don’t arise in the future.

Taking ownership of the mistakes and the shortcomings also allows the leaders and their team to consistently grow and improve for future prospects.

Dr. Paras


Dr. Paras

ICF-certified (Master Certified Coach) and ESIA -Coach Supervisor Dr. Paras, and Co-Founder of Dr Paras Wellness Pvt. Ltd. with brand Matrrix has been focused towards initiating change and transformation in people. As a certified Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) Master Practitioner and Mindfulness Coach, he brings a fresh approach towards learning the psychology of one’s thinking and behavior patterns. In his 18 years’ journey, he has trained, coached and mentored over 1.5 lakh individuals while certifying over 240 coaches. The leadership development programs of Matrrix have honed over hundreds of professionals while resolving workplace issues and ensuring higher ROI for firms.

Dr. Paras uses the power of coaching, counseling and positive psychology frameworks to resolve organizational issues, manage internal conflicts, and accelerate business growth. His programs for professional certifications in NLP, Mindfulness, Counseling, Coaching, and more have solidified his name as a transformation coach. Dr. Paras is also the founder of the Iinner Universe Education Foundation that runs Tava-Mitram (not-for-profit) to improve emotional wellness. He is also an avid blogger and social media enthusiast who loves keeping in touch with his international audience.

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