If leaders are to be coaches, where do we start?  In short, with you!  It’s not about your technical skills, your qualifications, your career to date, your reputation, or your achievements; it’s simply about who you are as a person.

As Richard Leider states so clearly in his chapter (“The Leadership Mirror: Why Should I follow you?”) in the book edited by Marshall Goldsmith and others titled, Coaching for Leadership (2000), the real difference between success and failure can be traced to internal reasons and not external reasons. In other words, how well do leaders engage the hearts and souls of their followers?  It’s about what’s inside you and not outside you that really counts.

For Leader-Coaches, it is no different.

First, it takes self-discipline. If you can’t manage yourself how on earth are you going to try to assist others?

Second, it’s about being a role model. Do you walk the talk? Do you practice what you preach?  Are you the real deal?

Third, it’s about “who you are,” not “what you do.” It’s important to focus on the who question before the what question. Who are you at your essence? It’s not about what you do or your achievements.

Finally, it’s about what you believe. What do you believe that “bosses” do and think and how might it be different from what “coaches” do and think? (If you want to know more on this one, please see the table below.)

Why Can’t We Just Learn Some New Methods and Techniques and Begin Coaching?

The fact is that personal aspects of our lives do not stay out of the business arena.  Everyone brings to work the entire array of his or her personality — their thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, habits, needs, wants, fears, behaviours, roles and conditioning.

Coaching is not about having an ego where you measure yourself against others

Coaching is not about having an ego where you measure yourself against others

Effective leader-coaches do not bring their personal into work situations. Yes, they certainly bring themselves, but they leave their ego at the door. They do not get caught up in the following:

  • the trappings of authority
  • their reputation and what they might have achieved
  • control and having it their way
  • trying to look good
  • knowing all the answers
  • taking all the credit for any good
  • being the expert

It all comes down to what you believe and who you are at your core.  What is your essence?  Are you an ego and it’s all about you, or are you soul-filled and others-oriented? Do you really care about others?  Are you prepared to give people the personal gift of time?

As the saying goes, “People do not care what you know until they know that you care.”

Look below for example, at the different kinds of beliefs that Bosses might hold in contrast to Coaches.

Do you see the difference?  Do you see what it takes to come full around from a “boss” philosophy to a “coach” philosophy?

Beliefs that Bosses Hold Beliefs that Coaches Hold
Their job is to push people or drive them. They are there to lift and support people.
They talk at people by telling, directing and lecturing. They engage in dialogue with people by asking, requesting and listening.
They control others through the decisions they make. They facilitate others to make decisions and empower them to implement their own decisions.
They know the answers. They believe they must seek the answers.
They trigger insecurity through administering a healthy dose of fear as an effective way to achieve compliance. They believe in using purpose to inspire commitment and stimulate creativity.
They believe that their job is to point out errors. They believe that their job is to celebrate learning.
They believe in solving problems and making decisions. They believe in facilitating others to solve problems and make decisions.
They believe in delegating responsibility. They believe in modelling accountability.
They create structure and procedures for people to follow. They creative vision and promote flexibility through values as guidelines for behaviour.
They believe in doing things right. They believe in doing the right things.
They believe that their power lies in their knowledge. They believe that the power lies in their vulnerability.
They focus on the bottom line. They focus on the process that creates the bottom-line result.

Adapted from Thomas Crane, “Becoming a Coach for the Teams you Lead,” in Coaching for Leadership, edited by Marshal Goldsmith (2000).

What makes for an Effective Leadership Coach?

As Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries highlights in his book,

“The Leader on the Couch,” the most effective leadership coaches…