New Leadership Style is not ‘Managing’ but ‘Coaching’
Leadership styles dictate how well employees achieve their goals and find satisfaction in their careers.
The coaching leadership style is about inspiring your team, building their confidence, and teaching them the skills they need in order to develop and work together successfully while ensuring they feel supported by the coaching leader along the way.
Defined by Paul Hershey and Kenneth Blanchard in the 1960s, coaching leadership is highly common in today’s workplace because its positive nature promotes development of new skills, revisits company objectives and fosters a confident company culture. Leaders who coach are often seen as valuable mentors.
There are three generally accepted styles of coaching : Autocratic, Democratic and Holistic.
Autocratic coaching can best be summed up by the phrase “My way or the highway.” Autocratic coaches make decisions with little to no input from the player or players. The coach articulates a vision for what needs to be accomplished by the players, and the players are expected to perform. Autocratic coaching is win-focused and typically features inflexible training structures.
Democratic coaching is exactly what it sounds like. Coaches facilitate decision making and goal setting with input from their athletes instead of dictating to them. This style of coaching is athlete-centered, and the athletes shape their own objectives under a framework outlined by the coach. Democratic coaches give a lot of autonomy to players and teams, who are active collaborators in their own development and direction.
Also known as “laissez-faire” coaching, this style of coaching is founded on the theory that a happy team naturally becomes a successful team. Very little is offered in terms of structured training or positive feedback. Instead, the holistic coach works to create an environment where players feel comfortable exploring and pursuing skills development on their own time and in their own way. The coach does not act as a central authority, and instead allows the team to set their own agenda.
Which Style Is Right?
For most coaches, simply choosing one style isn’t an option. Few leaders fall purely into one style of coaching, and personal experience and philosophy shape approaches to coaching as well. A coach should learn to recognize the difference between effort and results, and between physical and mental mistakes. A coach should model fairness and good sportsmanship consistently, and should maintain clear lines of communication, even if that communication is one-sided.
But the new leadership style is not ‘managing’ but ‘coaching’
The transformation of a manager into a coach — from a ‘command and control’ style to one of mentoring — is fast emerging in the hybrid way of working.
“Today, the mindset of the talent that’s coming in is such that they want that level of empowerment and they want that level of freedom to think creatively. Today’s problems are too complex for a manager to solve on their own. They need to empower the teams and coach them when required,” says Sunit Sinha.
CLS is recognizable through characteristics and attributes found in the workplace, including the following (Eden Project, 2018; Lee, 2020):
- 360-degree feedback is provided by both management and team. All staff are encouraged to take constructive feedback and act upon it.
- Leaders become effective communicators, sharing, engaging, and listening to the team.
- Delegation is effective yet deliberate. Employees are given the opportunity to use their strengths and grow their skills, and are credited with their successes.
- Leaders help their teams visualize the goals behind what they are doing, serving as both guide and observer. They are comfortable letting go and allowing individuals to run with the work.
- Micro-management is discouraged. Instead, the CLS leader is motivated to enable others to succeed and reach personal and group goals.
- Empathy and awareness are clear in the leader’s actions and communication.
- Collaboration, support, and guidance are evident in the coaching style.
- The autocratic leadership (including top-down decision making) is replaced by a focus on bringing out the best in people, guiding them toward goals and overcoming obstacles.
- Personal and professional development of employees is encouraged.
- There are more opportunities for individual growth and creative thinking.
The CLS-trained (and aware) leader builds and uses the team’s personal strengths to create an environment of creativity that communicates and collaborates effectively, ultimately increasing long-term success for the organization.