coaching leadership style

What is the Coaching Leadership Style? Explained with 5+ Examples

Leadership is like having a toolbox full of different tools. Each tool has its purpose, and as a leader, it’s crucial to know which one to use. Just like you wouldn’t use a hammer to fix a leaky faucet, you wouldn’t use the same leadership style for every situation. There are three main styles of leadership: authoritarian, democratic, and participative. Each has its strengths and weaknesses, and it’s essential to understand which one suits you and your team best.

In this blog, we’ll talk about the coaching style of leadership. It’s a bit different from what you might think of as traditional leadership. Instead of just telling people what to do, coaching leaders work closely with their team members. They guide and collaborate with them, almost like a coach on a sports team. We’ll dive into what makes the coaching style unique and explore its benefits and drawbacks. By the end, you’ll have a better understanding of whether coaching leadership is right for you and your team. Let’s get started!

What is the coaching style of leadership?

The coaching leadership style focuses on bringing out the best in employees. The managers and leaders work closely with employees to help them grow in many ways. They help individuals identify weak areas and support their progress as they grow. This is in strike contrast to conventional leadership that establishes a top-down approach. In a significant shift, the coaching style of leadership describes the manager as a facilitator of growth.

The leadership style of a coaching manager also expands the scope of a manager’s focus. Instead of merely focusing on their team’s performance, managers also focus on the individuals making up that team. Helping employees grow smartly along with the team is the key to generating productivity with this approach. Moreover, coaching is an essential skill for managers and leaders to carry out their job effectively.

Read more about leadership styles here: Understand The 7 Different Types Of Leadership Styles With Examples

What are the advantages of the coaching leadership style?

  • Helps leaders build relationships: The coaching style of leadership brings leaders closer to their team members by providing them ample opportunities to interact on relevant matters for both parties. Regular interaction creates a positive relationship based on trust between the manager and the team members. 
  • Employees feel safe: The coaching leadership style ensures that the employees are aware of the expectations they are supposed to meet. They also receive constant guidance and support from their supervisors. As a result, a psychologically safe environment is created where team members can learn and take ownership of their work. 
  • High-performing teams for managers: By adopting the coaching style of leadership, managers can create high-performing teams attuned to their needs. They are aware of the strengths and weaknesses of their teams and guide them to align their growth with that of the team. 

What are the disadvantages of the coaching leadership style?

  • Takes time and effort from the manager: The major disadvantage of the coaching leadership style is that it requires substantial time and effort from the manager. It takes time for critical strategic tasks for the team and impedes the manager’s personal growth. 
  • Depends on the willingness of team members: The success of coaching also hinges on the ability and desire of the team members to learn. Repeated coaching efforts can sometimes be unsuccessful because the team lacks an attitude of continuous learning and is not open to growth owing to a limiting mindset. 
  • Managers need guidance ability to be effective: Coaching leadership style also requires managers to be able guides. If the managers lack guidance ability, the team can suffer under the coaching leadership style as they would lack clarity of purpose and plan.
Effective coaching leadership requires managers to be excellent guides, hone communication skills, and have an open mindset that enables learning exchange. 

Fundamental Principles of Coaching Leadership

7 Fundamental Principles of Coaching Leadership are:

  • Focus on Development: Prioritize the growth and development of your team members, fostering a culture of continuous learning and improvement.
  • Empowerment and Autonomy: Encourage autonomy and empower team members to make decisions, take ownership of their work, and explore innovative solutions.
  • Active Listening: Practice active listening to fully understand your team members’ perspectives, needs, and aspirations. Show empathy and validate their experiences.
  • Feedback and Support: Provide constructive feedback and support tailored to individual strengths and areas for improvement. Offer guidance and resources to help team members reach their full potential.
  • Collaborative Problem-Solving: Engage in collaborative problem-solving with your team, encouraging open dialogue, brainstorming, and creative thinking to address challenges and achieve goals together.
  • Recognition and Celebration: Recognize and celebrate the achievements and milestones of your team members, reinforcing positive behaviors and fostering a culture of appreciation and recognition.
  • Continuous Improvement: Foster a mindset of constant improvement, both individually and collectively, by encouraging reflection, learning from mistakes, and embracing opportunities for growth and development.
pros and cons of coaching leadership by risely

What are the characteristics of coaching leadership style?

Coaching style leadership is a style of leadership that emphasizes the importance of service to others and focuses on developing people rather than taking credit for their successes. This leadership style often results in high team morale and productivity because it builds trust between leaders and their team members. The common features of the coaching leadership style include the following:

Helping members achieve their goals

Collaborating to achieve rapid progress is a major feature of the coaching style of leadership. Leaders and managers who double as coaches for their team members work with their team members to help them improve. It includes planning and developing strategies to grow in specific areas that help the employees. These partnerships enable managers to build close relationships with their team too. The atmosphere of mutual respect and trust makes work conducive for all. In totality, the coaching relationship creates benefits for the workplace too.

Read more: Collaborative goal-setting: How to achieve team success?

Emphasis on feedback and asking questions

Giving feedback is a key part of coaching style leadership. Feedback is essential for growth and development but must be effective to achieve the desired results. Effective feedback starts with listening attentively to what team members have to say. It should also be specific, helpful, and timely so that team members can improve their skills quickly. Finally, leaders must use feedback positively to help employees grow rather than dwelling on past mistakes or failures. Hence, constructive feedback and asking the right questions are essential features of this style.

Employee development

Coaching style leadership emphasizes employee development. This means that leaders and managers provide feedback and help team members grow in their skills so they can succeed on the job. They do this by providing training, coaching, and mentoring opportunities. Leaders should ensure that employees have access to these resources to continue growing into effective professionals. Employee development also includes providing motivation and inspiration in low times so that employees look forward to achieving more with their teams.

Read more about employee development and its benefits.

Higher retention

Another key benefit of coaching style leadership is its impact on employee retention. It is because leaders and managers who focus on growth and development help employees see the value in their work, which leads to increased job satisfaction and motivation. In addition, leaders who provide feedback that focuses on skills rather than mistakes encourage team members to keep trying new things – even when initially unsuccessful. This strengthens teamwork morale and can lead to the long-term retention of talented employees.

Examples of Coaching Leadership in Action

Coaching leadership is an approach that involves providing guidance and feedback along the way to help team members grow and succeed. It can be done in a variety of ways, with different results. Several famous leaders have effectively used the coaching leadership style to generate great results with their teams.

The COO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, is famously known for her engaging leadership style. While upholding great standards for her team members, she sets a standard for other managers and leaders. Along with identifying the needs of her team and providing for them, she focused on motivating them through regular feedback, recognition, and appreciation. Her efforts significantly contributed to building standards and a reputation for the team.

Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, presents another great example of a leader using the coaching style. He inherited a stagnating organization but managed to drive a turnaround by closely engaging with his team. He developed the organization by focusing on its constituents – the people that make Microsoft. By emphasizing developing a growth mindset in his team, he started providing support and feedback as needed. Resultantly, his team brought a significant shift in the culture.

Here are some more ways the coaching leadership style works in action:

  • Developmental Conversations: A coaching leader engages in one-on-one conversations with team members to identify their strengths, areas for improvement, and career aspirations. They provide constructive feedback and work together to create personalized development plans to enhance skills and achieve professional goals.
  • Empowering Decision-Making: Instead of micromanaging, a coaching leader empowers their team members to make decisions independently. They offer guidance and support, encouraging employees to take ownership of their choices and learn from the outcomes, even if mistakes occur.
  • Skill Building Workshops: A coaching leader organizes skill-building workshops and training sessions to enhance the capabilities of their team members. They may bring in external experts or use internal resources to provide learning opportunities, tailored to individual needs and interests.
  • Performance Coaching: When team members face challenges or encounter obstacles, a coaching leader steps in to provide support and guidance. They help employees analyze the situation, identify potential solutions, and work together to create action plans for improvement.
coaching leadership style

Why should you adopt the coaching leadership style?

The coaching leadership style has several advantages. It can bring positive impacts for both teams and their managers. Managers who adopt the coaching style of leadership witness higher productivity in their teams. Managers do this by working on the employees individually. When you help them grow their skills, they can carry out their jobs effectively. Moreover, the relationships built in the process of choosing are a significant motivator to stay loyal and give their best at work.

On the other hand, the manager can learn a lot by turning into a coach. By adopting this role, they can refine their knowledge. Mutual respect and trust are built with the team member. Working with the team closely provides ample opportunities to build long-lasting relationships that enhance retention and the lifetime value of employment relationships.
With a view toward the future, the coaching leadership style is a great way to foster collaboration and help the teams grow together! You can read more about the importance of coaching skills for managers here.

How can you be a coaching leader?

While the task of coaching seems easy enough, it isn’t! Being a good coach will need much more than merely being a good manager. First and foremost, coaching leaders must have a good understanding of themselves. They need to be self-aware so that they can understand their strengths and weaknesses as well as the needs of their team members.

To effectively coach others, they also need emotional intelligence – which means being able to control emotions in personal and professional settings. Finally, coaching leaders must be effective communicators; they need to know how to present information in an organized way and deliver messages that motivate people.

The best way to be a coaching leader is by first understanding the qualities and skills needed for this leadership style. You must have an open mind, good communication skills, and patience. Additionally, you should also be able to understand how people work and what motivates them. It is important to focus on individual growth rather than just team growth, not to create division within your team.

You can read more about the essential coaching skills of a leader here.


As you can see, the coaching leadership style has many features that make it effective in leading teams and groups. By understanding these features, you can better understand how to use the coaching leadership style in your own business or organization. In addition, check out the examples of coaching leadership in action to get a better sense of how you can apply it to your situation.

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Which coaching quality makes a good leader?

The coaching leadership style enables leaders to create wholesome relationships with their team members that focus on their professional growth and development. The ability to provide guidance and build emotional connections makes them good leaders.

Is coaching leadership style the best leadership practice?

The coaching leadership style is one of the best ways to guide and motivate team members. This style helps them create results through close relationships with the employees and teaches them the knowledge, skills, and attitude needed to perform well.

What is a coaching leadership style example?

An example of the coaching leadership style is a leader guiding their new team member through regular tasks. They engage closely with the members, answer their questions, resolve queries, suggest improvements, and define milestones for them. Famous leaders like Satya Nadella follow this process.

What is the role of coaching in leadership?

Coaching enhances the leadership skills of a manager. It helps them build resilient and close-knitted teams that excel at their work. Collaboration is typically high among the manager and their team members. The managers can identify the motivators and goals of team members to drive their performance well.

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