As a leader, you’re driven to build high-performing teams, but it takes skill and a track record to appreciate your approach. With different leaders come different styles of coaching. It’s not just how you lead, but how you constantly train your team members to be leaders. This is what I call a leader coach.
My Leadership Coach Assessment will help you identify your style and determine which qualities or traits will help you be most effective and which may make you less effective. No style is better than another, and you are probably a mixture of several styles. Be honest with yourself so you can identify the things that will help you become a better leader coach. I have grouped leadership coaching personalities into four distinct styles.
This leader focuses on gathering facts and making decisions based on available data. Analytical leaders are natural problem solvers who use a logical and practical approach to solving problems. They are detail-oriented and cautious decision-makers who use a methodical step-by-step approach to minimize risk.
• Coaching strengths: Analytical leaders are calm, unemotional and rational in their coaching. This is especially important when coaching an employee who is indecisive or in an emotionally charged situation. As a leader coach, you are good at guiding them through a step-by-step approach to seeing the problem analytically and removing the emotion that interferes with objective decision-making.
• Coaching caveats: A leader who falls into this category can be seen as a perfectionist who wants to gather more and more data before making a decision. Your tendency in coaching is to minimize emotions. As a result, you may miss an opportunity to explore how the employee is feeling, which can inform how best to coach them.
It is essential that you focus, not on the facts, but on understanding what is preventing the employee from making the decision themselves.
This leader is more directive, decisive and focused on achieving results. They enjoy making quick decisions and achieving overriding goals. The results leader has a penchant for action and will be quick to act on their own if things are not moving fast enough.
• Leadership strengths: Results leaders are decisive and will keep the employee focused on the outcome they want. You will embrace execution and take decisive action. This is especially beneficial when an employee feels conflicted or procrastinating. As a leader coach, you encourage quick action from a direct, frontal approach to confronting and solving the problem.
• Coach’s caveats: Leaders who fall into this category tend to get impatient if things don’t move fast enough. If that describes you, you can give advice when the employee is struggling, when you should be coaching them instead.
Be sure to be patient and empower your team members to present their own options. The time investment will pay off now and in the future.
This leader is empathetic, desires harmony, and likes to establish a personal connection. They listen to people’s feelings and want to make sure everyone is happy. People leaders are collaborative, value consensus, and emphasize working together to achieve results.
• Coaching strengths: As a leader, you genuinely care about the employee and show a high level of empathy for the place where they work. This can be extremely helpful with an employee who lacks confidence. You view it as a partnership where collaboration helps them succeed, and you leverage a lot of encouragement to help them persevere.
• Coaching caveats: Leaders who fall into this category may not ask the tough questions needed for coaching. If this describes you, your natural tendency is to avoid giving critical comments that might make someone uncomfortable. Your need for consensus and harmony may prevent you from coaching the employee on a difficult decision, especially if it negatively impacts others.
It is essential that you provide both positive and corrective feedback to help the employee grow further and make the difficult calls.
This leader focuses on the big picture, loves creative ways to solve problems, and enjoys brainstorming to solve business challenges. Opinion leaders are forward-looking and prefer to look at the big picture rather than getting bogged down in the specific details of their decision-making.
• Strengths of coaching: The opinion leader appreciates opportunities to think outside the box and help employees explore alternative paths. An employee who is stuck or who feels they have encountered an insurmountable obstacle will appreciate your leadership. As a leader coach, you guide the employee to think through various scenarios they hadn’t thought of to solve their challenge.
• Coaching caveats: Leaders who fall into this category may overlook essential short-term actions, given all the good ideas you are capable of generating. If this describes you, you can make the case for more out-of-the-box thinking that might lead an employee to commit to a course of action you want them to take. But if the recommended action is not of their own making, you may find that the liability plummets.
Be sure to hand over to employees to take ownership and accountability for the decision and action plan detailing next steps.
think and act
As you learn more about your leadership coaching style, think about where you can build on your strengths and soften areas of development around each area of caution. Ask yourself these three questions:
1. What specific qualities do I demonstrate that are most effective?
2. What specific qualities do I exhibit that are less effective?
3. What three steps can I take to leverage my strengths and minimize my precautions?
This reflection will help you identify qualities or traits that will help you be more effective in building successful teams.