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Coaching Powers People to Become Leaders

Coaching Powers People To Become Better Leaders

Photo by Julio Shiiki / CC BY 2.0

But Which Type of Coaching Works Best?

Remember Remember the Titans? What do you remember about that movie (other than football)?

The next time you're channel surfing and stumble across the inspiring sports drama starring Denzel Washington, watch for another central theme to emerge. The film, which tells the story of a real-life coach fighting major obstacles during a 1971 high school football season drives home the fact that effective coaching does far more than lead a team to victory; effective coaching decidedly develops ordinary people into people of power—people who become leaders.

In the movie and in life, the protagonist Coach Herman Boone introduced bold and insightful coaching interventions in a time of turmoil, empowering students and other coaching staff to become true leaders. These coaching-created leaders made a powerful impact on their team, school, and community, even drawing the attention of the president of the United States.

In sports or in an organizational context, coaching empowers people in the face of change—structural, economic, and political. Coaching creates leaders who influence peers, employees, and teams, which can permeate and even transform the wider work culture.  

Coaching isn’t a one-size-fits-all concept, though. Just as Coach Boone approached his team as a unique collection of personalities, with individual strengths and needs, it is important to consider exactly which mode of coaching works best for you and your organization.

To set the stage for a successful coaching effort, and to help you decide the shape of your program, ask yourself these four key questions: 

  1. Could adding coaching to our leadership development programs help us get better outcomes?

    Coaching can further accelerate growth when offered in conjunction with other leadership development activities. Consider these benefits:
    • Coaching supports learning retention and behavior change, allowing participants to hone in on specific areas of development, leading to more immediate improvement and sustained outcomes.  
    • As a component of leadership development programs, coaches can provide leaders with real-time feedback, hold them accountable, help them make progress toward personalized development plans, and offer support and guidance as they work through ongoing challenges and successes.
  2. When should coaching be a stand-alone development tool? 

    In many cases, coaching is most effective when delivered on its own and not paired with other development programs. Consider stand-alone coaching if: 
    • You’re trying to develop a specific skill such as communication or delegation that applies to an individual or a small group of leaders.
    • You have a potential successor for a particular role and you want to accelerate his or her development. 
    • You’re concerned that a leader may be a retention risk and you want to invest in his or her individual development.
  3. When is group coaching most effective?

    Group coaching is effective when leaders have a common experience and can support one another in pursuing development plans, goals, and action items. Keep in mind:
    • Group coaching affords participants camaraderie and solidarity when they learn that their challenges are not unique; together they can share insights, discuss lessons learned, and work together to solve problems.
    • Group coaching allows participants to hone their skills in giving and receiving feedback, sharing knowledge, and encouraging others. 
    • One of the most positive outcomes of group coaching is that participants from all over an organization have the opportunity to network and break down barriers or silos.
  4. When should I use individual coaching? 

    In addition to choosing between integrated and stand-alone coaching, consider whether you want to provide coaching on an individual basis rather than part of a group. Keep in mind:
    • Individual coaching offers more finely-tuned, customized support as well as an opportunity to dive deeper into personal issues (e.g., strengths and weaknesses, barriers to development, career trajectory). 
    • Individual coaching tends to be better for the execution of ideas and approaches because the participant focuses on making progress on his or her own individualized action plan.  
    • Participants often report that they’re more comfortable being honest and candid with their coach than in a group setting. They appreciate being able to be vulnerable without the fear of being judged.  

Coaching is a flexible tool for development. When you explore the options, remember the end results that you’re planning to achieve: a well-thought-out program that’s supported by management and that engages leaders and inspires them to think, feel, and behave in new ways.

The result? Coaching builds leaders, giving them opportunities to be creative, perform more effectively in their roles, and move your organization forward. Coaching powers people, which in turn impacts you, your teams, and your business. 

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Nancy S. Ahlrichs

Nancy S. Ahlrichs Nancy is a former FlashPoint employee and expert in organizational development, intergenerational communication and management.