The Leader as Coach: Engage and Ignite Your Team

Do your leaders already embrace the “leader as coach” mindset? The Harvard Business Review summed it up nicely: “The manager’s role, in short, is becoming that of a coach.” When leaders embrace the leader as coach role, the cascading effects can ignite their teams to take ownership of their work and careers.

But making the transition from manager to coach isn’t easy. In fact, executives overwhelmingly feel the most urgent problem they face is inspiring leaders to coach employees, according to the Harvard Business Review. Similarly, a survey by revealed 93% of leaders feel they need training on how to effectively do this.

Shifting a leader’s style from managing workloads to coaching employees takes thoughtful efforts by both the leader and the organization. Here’s how to make the leader as coach mindset happen.

Get to Know Team Members on a Personal Level

Great coaches build relationships that make individuals feel valued and understood. They take the time to evaluate strengths, provide ongoing guidance and connect on a level that builds trust. To have such strong relationships with employees, you must genuinely know your team. You need to tap into their strengths and understand how to best support them.

However, focusing on efficiency might keep you from investing time in the relationship. It’s proven that stronger relationships deliver higher engagement and commitment in company success. Engagement is a huge competitive advantage for your company. In fact, engaged employees are:

Knowing your team members as individuals enables you to intersect their interests with organizational needs. We refer to this as the connecting role to goal in our leadership development programs. Coaches analyze their team to determine where strengths can best be utilized. The leader as coach makes this an ongoing practice by recognizing each person’s abilities and aligning them with the right projects. When employees clearly understand how their role fits into the bigger picture, they are more engaged. When individuals see how their involvement directly impacts the company’s performance, they see themselves as vital to organizational success. This is empowering.

Coach Talent to Find Answers

The Harvard Business Review reports that 70% of employee learning and development happens on the job, not through formal training programs. A leader who provides opportunities for on-the-job learning (beyond project oversight) positively impacts the employee’s ability to problem solve, lead projects, and grow in their role. If an employee looks to you to solve a problem, switch the conversation to help them think through the scenario. Ask curious questions. In addition, prompt them to develop a few of their own solutions.

Over time, your leader as coach mindset will take hold. Soon, it will cause employees to develop new ways of thinking. Make time for just-in-time feedback. Create open dialogue so you and your team can address needs in the moment and share constructive feedback. This is what will create valuable teachable moments. Leveraging these moments has the power to unleash engagement and productivity while strengthening the employee’s skill set.

How to Become More of a Leader as Coach

Walk alongside your employees’ learning efforts. Consider scheduling regular one-on-one’s to specifically discuss the individual’s challenges, career desires, and development needs. Whohoo, Inc. interviewed 700 workers on top factors that cause a bad day at work. The number one concern was “a lack of help and support from my boss” (40%).  When you know the direction your employee wants his/her role or career to go, you’re primed to provide the support and coaching they desire.

When an employee expresses an area to develop, clarify the end goal together, then create positive steps forward. This builds accountability for the employee throughout the process, and accountability is a great trait of any coach. For a leader as coach, reinforcement might include feedback exercises and even role-playing scenarios. Offering continuous learning activities like these leads to continuous growth.

The Benefits of a Leader as Coach Mentality

As a leader, you’re in the perfect spot to coach employees to help them improve performance. The benefits of this type of management coaching are numerous, including:

  • Stronger bonds between you and your team members
  • Team members taking ownership over their own learning
  • New skill development as employees are coached more effectively

View yourself as a people developer to start making the coaching mind shift! If your leaders haven’t made this transition, perhaps they could use the help of a coach themselves. Contact us at IMPACT Group. Discover how it will transform your leaders today!