What is Leadership Coaching?

When I turned 30, leadership coaching began to cross my mind. I just had my second child and felt that my career had plateaued. Somehow I couldn’t get out of the administrator role, wage or perception. I found this to be a problem in whatever job I pursued, so when I had the opportunity to build a coaching business I jumped on the opportunity. I still found, however, that I was the notetaker in most of the meetings and was responsible for filling out forms instead of doing the actual facilitation. I couldn’t seem to break that ‘strong administrator’ role.

I love what Marshall Goldsmith (one of the top leadership coaches) says, “What got you here, won’t get you there”, in other words, the promotions I had received in administrative roles were not going to elevate me into the leadership, coaching and executive levels I was looking for.

Like a true Dominant, I researched for a total of 9 minutes and enrolled myself to be a Certified Professional Coach through an ICF accredited program.

I invested the $10,000 and accessed a grant to pay for part of my training cost. It was a leap of faith, when I really had no guarantee of seeing the ROI of the upskilling. Something told me that I would gain the confidence and skills needed to uplevel my career and achieve the goals I was looking to accomplish.

You can see that this all paid off! I write this post as the CEO of Professional Leadership Institute and train others on how to be DISC Personalities Coaches. Pretty awesome.

Without further ado, let’s jump into what Leadership Coaching is.

What is Leadership Coaching

Leadership coaching is the ability to partner with an employee or client and challenge their beliefs, ask insightful questions and empower them to grow in their skills and confidence. More importantly, it’s the ability to know the approach needed in response to the challenge a person is facing. Great leadership coaches have the ability to ‘dance’ in the moment with their employee or client, remaining curious.

Perhaps the best way I’ve learned to understand Leadership Coaching is by separating ‘the who’ from ‘the what’.

‘The Who’ vs. ‘the What’

Often when and employee or client present an obstacle, they will share ‘the what’ with you.

For example, if an employee starts by lamenting about how Jimmy always oversteps his boundaries and is stepping on the employee’s toes, ‘the what’ is that Jimmy is stepping on the employee’s toes.

In the case of ‘the what’, the solution seems simple. Tell Jimmy to stop it. Do a write up. Document each instance, etc.

‘The Who’ is figuring out what is going on beyond the way that Jimmy is behaving (external circumstance). What is going on internally for the employee or client that is bothered by the behavior? What beliefs or assumptions do they have about the way that the situation should be handled?

Think of the story as a symptom. Any good doctor knows that treating the symptom will not treat the root cause of the patient. The patient may leave for a while, but then will return complaining of the same thing.

Your job as a leadership coach is to ask questions to understand the employee or client more, so that they can unearth the root cause of their frustration and be able to relieve the obstacle so that they can deal with the same situation more effectively in the future.

Maximizing Potential

In order to be an effective leadership coach, you need to be devoted to see other people succeed and grow. You need to want people to win!

Coaching others is not about YOU but rather about THEM. This isn’t a chance to impart all of your advice on the person. In fact, an effective coach believes that the client or employee has the ability to come up with their own solutions!

Your job is to think along with your client or employee and to aim to maximize their potential and support them when they need more help.

coaching versus advising differences

What makes Leadership Coaching Effective?

The International Coach Foundation has several aspects that contribute to effective leadership coaching.

  1. Client-Centered Approach:
    • Tailoring coaching sessions to the leader’s individual needs, goals, and preferences.
    • Co-creating a coaching agreement that outlines the leader’s objectives, desired outcomes, and expectations.
  2. Establishing Trust and Intimacy:
    • Building a safe and confidential space where the leader feels comfortable exploring challenges, receiving feedback, and engaging in self-reflection.
    • Confidentiality, integrity, and professional conduct.
  3. Co-Creating the Relationship:
    • Collaboratively developing a coaching relationship based on mutual respect, trust, and rapport.
  4. Active Listening and Powerful Questioning:
    • Practicing active listening to fully understand the leader’s perspective, emotions, and underlying concerns.
    • Utilizing powerful questioning techniques to provoke insight, exploration, and self-discovery.
  5. Creating Awareness:
    • Facilitating self-awareness and insight through reflective exercises, assessments, and feedback loops.
  6. Designing Actions:
    • Co-creating actionable strategies, goals, and plans that align with the leader’s values, strengths, and aspirations.
  7. Managing Progress and Accountability:
    • Holding the leader accountable for commitments and actions agreed upon during coaching sessions.
  8. Facilitating Learning and Results:
    • Supporting the leader’s learning and growth through feedback, experimentation, and reflection.
  9. Maintaining Professionalism:
  10. Evaluating and Reflecting:
    • Continuously evaluating coaching effectiveness through self-assessment, feedback, and ongoing professional development.

How to Become a Leadership Coach

I’ve had people ask me about how they can apply leadership coaching to their skillset. Do they need an official ICF certification? Do they take a Udemy course? Do they attend our training? WHAT TO DO?!

Start with the end in mind. What are you hoping to achieve by becoming a certified leadership coach?

ICF Certification for Leadership Coaching:

  • Full ICF certification is worth it if you are pursuing becoming a leadership coach to multiple organizations.
  • It builds credibility and is internationally recognized.
  • It is not focused at all on giving advice! You will be expected to ‘pure’ coach, meaning you ask only questions and give observations about your employee/client. There is no advising. This is harder to do in real world leadership.
  • The programs you take do not guarantee you a job. In fact, many coaching companies and organizations will NOT hire you unless you have at least your ACC credential. In order to get that credential, you need to have 60 hours of coach education (through a program) and 100 hours of client coaching experience. This coaching experience MUST be outside of your current job (ahem… you will be coaching for free OR very minimal amounts unless you are already coaching clients).
  • The programs are generally not focused, so you will have many different professions (ie. therapist etc) that are attending.
  • There is a lot of wasted training time. In my particular program, I found it to be redundant or a waste of time.
  • Coaching in front of PCC and MCC coaches with feedback refines skill and there is good, practical ways to implement.
  • You get to meet and engage with some amazing people. I met and coached an olympian, the head of a top business school, CEO’s and many other professionals.
  • You are left with a large fee and if you can’t sell, you will have trouble doing anything with your certification. Unless you already have a position suited for the certification.
  • I see it as worth it if you are pursuing coaching as your full career and you want to move into getting your ACC, PCC or MCC credentials.

Udemy Courses for Leadership Coaching

  • If you’re looking for a quick fix to gain some tips, this is a great option.
  • Price point is very reasonable.
  • More for skill development than a recognized certification.
  • Less credibility than other programs.
  • Quick acceptance and turnaround time.
  • No live feedback on your skill.
  • Great for professionals that are looking to upskill but not gain any recognized certificate.
  • Varied instructors who may or may not have experience in leadership coaching.

DISC Certified Coach

  • Best of both worlds.
  • Gain the foundation of coaching without the extra training programs add to meet requirements.
  • DISC is globally recognized.
  • Niche into a market where you can easily communicate value and expertise.
  • Become a master in one tool that is in demand across the world.
  • Upskill as a professional to coach your team members and foster development.
  • Share a certification with your community that is exclusive to Professional Leadership Institute.
  • Gain CCE’s from the ICF.
  • Join a community of like-minded professionals.
  • Be trained by both a Certified Professional Coach and a veteran coach that is a Master of DISC Personalities.
  • Bring practical tools and skills to organizations.
  • Great fit for professionals that are not looking to make coaching their full-time career.
  • Accessible price point.
  • Smaller investment of time than a full ICF training program.
  • Eligible for grants in most states/provinces in North America.
  • Costs are covered by most organizational professional development programs.
  • Practical benefits for organizations that are able to bring coaching internally instead of hiring external coaches.

If you’d like to learn more about becoming a DISC Personalities Certified Coach, join the waitlist for the next cohort here!

Leadership Coaching FAQ

What is the focus of Leadership Coaching?

Leadership coaching is focused on empowering employees and clients with new thought processes, tools and feedback they need to become the best version of themselves.

What is the goal of Leadership Coaching?

The ultimate goal of leadership coaching is to create independent, confident and equipped employees and leaders that are able to think independently and make wise decisions.

What is Leadership Coaching Style?

A leadership coaching style is something we address within our DISC Personalities Coach Certification. Depending on your DISC assessment results, you will show up differently than someone who scores differently from you. Each leadership style has unique strengths and challenges that bring different aspects to a coaching engagement. Depending on the personality style of your client or employee, learning to flex your style and seeking to understand them more will help in equipping them.

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