Leadership Coaching: The Definitive Guide

Leadership coaching image 4994994994Leadership isn’t a skill that is acquired through osmosis or length of service.

People are often promoted to positions of leadership because they have been especially effective at a specific functional job skill, not because they are good at nurturing, supporting and leading others.

Leadership coaching provides the bridge between being a leader in name and being a leader in reality.

You have landed at the definitive guide to leadership coaching.

Read on to find out what leadership coaching is, what it’s not, why you as a leader need it and, what skills to look for in a potential leadership coach.

What is Leadership Coaching and Why is it Beneficial?

Leadership coaching is a partnership between a business leader and a coach designed to achieve behavioral change and improve the effectiveness of the leadership role.  The coach is a person from outside of the organization who comes in, not to problem solve, but as a guide to direct the leader to find their own solution.

Leadership coaching has a flow on effect through the organization. A culture of coaching is initiated which results in improvements in communication, performance and effectiveness of all members of the organization. Leadership coaching is a vehicle that can allow any organization to achieve peak performance while, at the same time, fostering a culture of openness, respect and personal fulfillment.

Leadership coaches work only with successful leaders. Leaders who are failing in their role do not require leadership coaching. Instead they would benefit from mentoring or training from within the organization.

Leadership coaching image 9823333What to Expect from Leadership Coaching

A leadership coach is focused on helping the leader boost their effectiveness as a leader. Rather than getting bogged down with problems within the organization, the leader’s personal life problems, providing therapy or career guidance, the coach will exclusively concentrate on improving the person’s leadership impact.

You can expect your coach to challenge you to look deep inside yourself in a process of self- development and personal fulfilment. You will be guided to examine aspects of your psyche that may be challenging and uncomfortable in order to remove obstacles to leadership fulfillment.  Throughout this process, you can expect your coach to challenge you to undertake vigorous reflection and introspection.

Your leadership coach will confront the assumptions that you have been, often unwittingly, operating under to uncover such obstacles to effective leadership as blind spots and unconscious bias.

Even though the coach may lead you to areas that are uncomfortable, he or she will do so with the single-minded goal of releasing your potential for extraordinary leadership and will be your most ardent supporter.

However, a great coach will not molly-coddle you in order to avoid difficult moments.

You can expect your coach to be proactive in assisting you to be constantly moving forward. The coach will present you with new leadership concepts that will be challenging to adopt and may lead to self -doubt and feelings of failure.

However, you can expect the coach to help you to reflect, learn and continue progressing forward. Your coach will address issues that others will shy away from.

This is done in order to increase the self-awareness that is essential to growth.

Why is Coaching Important for Leaders?

Coaching is a valuable process for leaders because it provides them with an objective forum in which they can be confronted and provoked in order to challenge their assumptions and unconscious beliefs.

This allows them to correct behavioral problems that are impeding their leadership ability.

Coaching helps leaders to resolve interpersonal conflicts among employees and to share the skills that they have developed to provide a flow on effect in order to develop leadership skills in their team members.

Coaching equips a leader with the personal skills that they need to effectively work through challenges and obstacles that may arise.

Coaching helps leaders to excel at what are often referred to as ‘soft skills’ of leadership. These include establishing deeper relationships, showing empathy, communicating more authentically and enhancing emotional intelligence.

Coaching will enable leaders to identify and overcome the obstacles to effective leadership that they are, more than likely, unaware of. These may include uncovering blind spots, unconscious bias, an integrity gap and lack of confidence.

How Much Does Leadership Coaching Cost?

According to a survey conducted by the International Coaching Federation, the average hourly rate for leadership coaching in 2019 is $USD300 per hour.

What is the Difference Between Executive and Leadership Coaching?

Both life coaches and executive coaches work one-on-one with business leaders to improve their performance.

The difference lies in the focus of that assistance. A Leadership Coach will focus on helping to overcome the personal obstacles that are holding the leader back from achieving their leadership potential.

It is wholly focused on the leader’s self-growth and personal development in order to achieve leadership excellence. Leadership coaching is most often taken up by organizational managers and team leaders.

Executive coaching focuses on the professional aspirations of the business leader.

Executive coaching success is indicated by measurable business performance outcomes. Executive coaching is most often taken up by CEOs and CFOs.

90 percent of the time, executive coaching is paid for by the organization, whereas 61 percent of leadership coaching is paid for by the leaders themselves.

What are the Key Leadership Coaching Skills?

The following 4 basic skills are essentials for true leaders:

  1. Can you rumble with vulnerability?
    Can you stay in tough things when they get uncomfortable and awkward, or do you tap out?
  2. Live with values. 
    Are you clear about what your values are and have you operationalized these into behaviors?
    Do you know what behaviors support your values, what don’t?
  3. Braving trust. 
    Can you build trust and be trustworthy?
  4. Learn to rise. 
    Do you know how to get back up and rise? Even after a setback?

An effective leadership coach will also have the ability to challenge your assumptions in order to help you develop a fresh perspective.

They will do this by giving you unfiltered feedback that doesn’t pull any punches. Good leadership coaches will also avoid being easily impressed by your accomplishments.

They are not there to massage your ego but to enhance your positive impact on the organization.

An effective leadership coach will be more interested in proof that the members of your team have been motivated to excel in their personal roles because of your leadership than your individual accomplishments.

Effective coaches also hold back from providing advice or giving recommendations. Rather, they will empower you to come up with the solutions yourself.

Effective leadership coaching will help you to better know yourself by discovering how what you believe about yourself and others impacts upon your leadership.

Effective coaches will possess the ability to confront and provoke without alienating you, all with the goal of promoting personal leadership development. Such coaches have the ability to sift through extraneous matters and focus on the crux issues, no matter how uncomfortable those issues may be. They will engage in these tough discussions unflinchingly but always with passion and empathy.


A leadership coach will bring the objectivity that is vital to uncovering the challenges and obstacles to achieving leadership excellence.

In doing so, the coach will help you to uncover the inner secrets to self- growth that will allow you to flourish both personally and professionally.

About the Author

Leadership coaching author image 300300Bijan Kholghi is a Life Coach with a hypno-systemic background. For the past twenty years he has passionately studied self-development. His personal journey has led him from finance to psychology and coaching. Bijan received his psychology training from Dr. Gunter Schmidt, who was himself directly taught by Milton Erickson, one of the greatest psychiatrists to have ever lived. Bijan was able to use the techniques he acquired to make drastic positive changes in his own life. He now uses those same techniques to help leaders achieve excellence. His greatest inspiration and joy is to help improve other people’s lives.