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. 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, and help you coach your own team to project and personal success.
Listen now to this featured podcast on leadership coaching.
A coach is someone who helps an individual achieve their goals. The coach supports their colleague to come up with solutions to roadblocks that feel authentic for them. They provide guidance, support and motivation but they do not offer solutions of their own.
As Susanne Madsen says, "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."Coaching is a powerful way of developing your colleagues and project team members. And you can use a coaching leadership style to encourage your team to find solutions for themselves.
Leadership coaching can be defined as a process for helping leaders to achieve their goals in a tailored and structured way, with support from a coach.
Leadership coaching is a powerful way to uncover a path to success. It's personalized to the individual. The coach works alongside the leader as their champion and ally. The relationship is supportive.
The main characteristic of coaching leadership is that the coach doesn't provide the answers. There are no conversations that start, "Well, what I would do is..." Instead, the coach helps the leader reflect on different options for moving forward so the leader can identify the best route forward for themselves.
Leadership coaching in project management is a way to motivate and lead the team. A project coach will ask questions and listen, facilitating the process of searching for answers instead of telling people what to do. There hasn't been much research into using a coaching leadership style specifically in project management, but there are case studies about coaching in the project environment that show how effective it is.
Coaching is one of the six leadership styles. If you Google leadership styles, you’ll normally see it at the bottom of the list, as an overlooked leadership style, 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.
You can use a coaching leadership style as part of your daily interactions with the team. Here are some examples of when it is appropriate to do so.
For instance, if someone asks, “How do you want me to do this?” you could simply tell them what to do. However, if you take the position of a coaching leader, you would 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, you might have the option of working with a certified, professional coach as an opportunity made available to you by your management team.
There's a strong relationship between coaching and leadership. Leadership is something difficult to learn in a classroom setting. Working with a coach gives you the opportunity to build your leadership skills in a way that is tailored to your personal style and the organization's culture. Coaching and development go hand-in-hand. As a project leader you will coach and develop your team, and you'll also potentially be receiving coaching and development to excel in your role too.
The main objectives of using a coaching leadership style are:
Sounds great, doesn't it? Let's consider how those objectives apply to your project environment.
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.
A coaching leadership style is where you support and develop your team in a hands-on way. The leader takes an active interest in the team, helping them identify areas for personal and professional growth and then supporting them in achieving those developmental goals. There are different ways to go about this, so let's review those 5 different coaching styles in more detail.
Coach-style leadership is effective in a project management context because project leaders often don’t have full hierarchical authority over the individuals working in the team. You can use coaching styles of leadership without being someone’s line manager.
Here are some coaching leadership style examples:
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 approach 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.
Leadership coaching is important because it helps project team members stay motivated and develop their skills proactively. A facilitative leadership style helps individuals identify their own areas for performance improvement and encourages the team to work on their own initiative.
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.
Whether you are looking to improve your skills so you can provide leadership coaching to your team, or whether you want 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.
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!