Leadership Coaching
Introduction to Leadership Coaching

The Leader as a Coach

As a project leader, you’re guiding and directing a team towards the end goal for a project. You’re also trying to help them build their skills. And at the same time, you want to improve your own skills at leading. What can help you do just that?

That’s right: leadership coaching.

If you’re reading this page, it’s probably because you are interested in what leadership coaching can do for you and your team. We have a range of expert interviews you can listen to through our free podcasts on the topics of leadership and coaching.

Let us help you learn more about this topic. You’ll take away tips and techniques to improve how you lead, help you find a leadership coach, and help you coach your own team to project and personal success.

Featured Podcast: Project Coaching Makes You a Better Project Leader

Listen now to this featured podcast on leadership coaching.

In this featured podcast you learn about the various project coaching techniques available to you in a project role. We'll see how coaching can make you a better project leader.

It is the people working on our projects who get things done, so we want to unlock their potential. When we coach, we really help people to help themselves in overcoming an issue or in reaching a certain goal.

The tips you'll pick up will help you get better at motivation and coaching skills, leadership and working with your colleagues -- all essential skills for project managers today.

Susanne Madsen
Susanne Madsen
Please scroll down to see the full list of our Agile Methodology podcasts.

What is a Coach?

A coach is someone who does the opposite of command and control. They really listen and they help someone to find the answer for themselves. Coaching is a way of unleashing someone else's potential.

Leadership Coaching in Project Management

Coaching is one of the six leadership styles. If you Google leadership styles, you’ll normally see it at the bottom of the list, almost like an afterthought. But for us as project leaders, it should be at the top of the list! After all, it is the people working on our projects who get things done so we want to unlock their potential. Leadership coaching may just be the answer.

Coaching is non-directive. As a project manager, it might feel strange to work in a non-directive way, as you are used to providing direction to the team. It might also feel strange to receive coaching, as the interactions you have with the project sponsor and other senior leaders in the organization are often around decision making. In other words, you are receiving direction from them.

When Do You Use Leadership Coaching?

As a project manager, you can use a coaching leadership style as part of your daily interactions with the team. For instance, if someone asks, “How do you want me to do this?” you could simply tell them what to do. However, a coaching style of leadership would prompt you to ask a question instead. Turn it around and say “What would you like to achieve?” or “What might happen if you do that?”

Leadership coaching can also be part of a structured development plan for project delivery professionals. As you grow in your career, professional coaching might be something made available to you by your management team.

Leadership Coaching Objectives

The main objectives of using a coaching leadership style are:

  • To develop and improve the performance of the team by helping people help themselves
  • To develop skills across the team
  • To empower individuals to take their own decisions and work independently
  • To make individuals feel supported
  • To provide feedback.

A coach is someone who does not work in a command and control manner. Their role is to listen and help an individual find the answers from within themselves. They ask the right questions to help you move forward in whichever direction is most appropriate for them.

How Does Leadership Coaching Work?

If you put time and effort into how to do leadership coaching, you’ll find the results are positive. Leadership coaching supports organizational performance by empowering individuals and teams to act in a professional and independent way.

One of the principles of leadership is that leading is about people. As a project leader, you can choose when to use coaching leadership style to get the best benefit. During a project, there will be times when you have to use a directive leadership style. At other times, taking a facilitative, coaching style will be more effective.

Leadership coaching works because it helps an individual get clear on their priorities, uncover bias, establish how to get things done and build self-awareness.

The Importance of Leadership Coaching

Project managers love to be problem solvers because it makes us feel wanted and also keeps the project moving forward. However, solving the problem for someone else doesn’t help them think for themselves or learn from the experience.

That’s why leadership coaching is important.

Coaching can be formal or informal, and many coaches have a certification to show they have studied the method and achieved a certain level. You can take a short course in leadership coaching, or study for a longer period of time: if you are interested in building your coaching skills, it is certainly worth investing in learning more through a recognized provider.

Essentials of Leadership Coaching

Leadership coaches are independent. They try to create a situation where an individual can find the answers for themselves. It’s useful to think of leadership coaching as a technique that can be used to facilitate learning and reflection through questions. Coaches don’t provide answers and they don’t give advice about what to do or how to do it. Instead, the empower the individual to find the answers that are right for them.

Successful leadership coaches use listening effectively. What you hear is more important than your own internal dialogue, so practising listening is a good starting point for developing your own coaching skills.

Whether you are looking to improve your skills so you can provide leadership coaching to your team, or whether you wan to secure the services of a coach so you can improve your own leadership, the podcasts in our archives will help you take the first steps in learning more about this topic. Which one will you listen to first?

The discipline of leadership is complex. It's wide but it's also a lot of fun. It's also of a very high importance to a project manager because as a project manager, your technical skills take you far but they don’t take you far enough. When the project starts getting more and more complex, the leadership skills become more and more important.
Niraj Kumar, PMP

PM Podcast Episodes About Leadership Coaching

Below you'll find a few selected PM Podcast episodes that talk about the topic of leadership coaching.

Project Management Coaching: A How To Guide

In this podcast, you'll learn 10 opportunities you have to find moments to coach, mentor and support your project management colleagues and community. Project management coach Jeff Furman, PMP, shares his experience working with leaders in a variety of industries. Whether you are experienced in project management coaching and mentoring or just starting out, you'll find some great tips in this episode.
Jeff Furman, PMP
Jeff Furman, PMP

Supportive Leadership

As a leader, you should of course be supportive of your team, and coaching is one way to do that. But have you heard of supportive leadership as a concept? Joseph Flahiff is an expert on the topic. In this interview you’ll learn how to incorporate supportive leadership into your own project leadership almost right away. And of course we will also touch upon the main difference between supportive leadership and servant leadership. You’ll be just as surprised as I was.
Joseph Flahiff, PMP, PMI-ACP
Joseph Flahiff, PMP, PMI-ACP

How to Develop Your Leadership Skills

In this podcast interview, Andy Kaufmann discusses how project management differs from project leadership, if a project leader needs subject matter expertise, why he recommends that we develop capability in our teams and of course he gives us his tips on how to grow your leadership skills. Leadership coaching is a great way to improve your skills in this area.
Andy Kaufmann and Cornelius Fichtner
Andy Kaufmann and Cornelius Fichtner

Coaching, Mentoring, Training & Motivational Techniques

Every project that you have ever and will ever manage depends on people’s skills. In this episode with coaching expert Susanne Madsen, you'll learn tips and tricks for helping your team succeed. With motivation and coaching skills leadership, you can make a huge difference to how supported your team members feel when working on your project. And we know that better motivation tends to lead to higher engagement and therefore better outcomes. Learn more in this podcast!
Susanne Madsen
Susanne Madsen


Coaches take the time to look at the goals. They uncover the problem that needs to be solved, or the objective that needs to be achieved. When you can help someone understand what they are moving towards, it’s easier for them to see the next steps. Then the individual being coached can create an action plan to help them close the gap and achieve their goals.

We have some great interviews with expert coaches in a range of different fields, so dive in and you’ll soon learn more about the topic!

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