The success of your teams–and the individuals within those teams–is dependent on the success of your leaders.
The problem, however, is that not all managers are leaders. Many, in fact, lack the leadership qualities needed to influence, motivate, and coach their direct reports.
Which then of course impacts productivity, morale, and job satisfaction.
Here’s the thing though—while your managers may not currently possess the attributes needed for driving high performance in their teams, these attributes can be learned. At least they can with the right development opportunities.
In other words, the right coaching opportunities.
Throughout this article, we’ll dive into what leadership coaching is and the types of leadership coaching available to you. What’s more, we’ll even share some examples of great leadership programs for inspiration.
What is leadership coaching?
Leadership coaching is a management training tool, designed to help those in leadership positions develop the capabilities and skills they need to be successful.
Skills that include—but are certainly not limited to—active listening, communication, empathy, persuasion, and coaching.
Leadership coaching isn’t just about teaching managers new skills though. It’s also about helping them acknowledge their weaknesses, while gaining a better perspective about their abilities and how best to use them.
What’s more, it’s about helping those in leadership positions empower not only themselves, but the people they manage.
According to Jerome Taillard, “With good leadership, you can create a vision and can motivate people to make it a reality”.
But what are your options when it comes to coaching your leaders?
Types of leadership coaching
When it comes to coaching leaders, there is not always a one-size-fits-all approach. It is often bespoke to the needs of the individual manager.
Often, but not always.
There may be times, for example, when groups of peers—for instance groups of managers with no formal accountability or interactions with one another, but with similar levels of seniority and experience—can benefit from the same leadership training.
In this section, we’ll explore the different types of leadership coaching available to you.
One-to-one coaching will typically provide employees with personalized development opportunities that support not only their own ambitions, but also those of the organization. In fact, with one-to-one coaching, these individuals will work closely with a coach to reach an agreed performance outcome, in a supportive environment where they can deal with any issues confidentially.
It’s ultimately an effective way to help managers realize their potential and reach peak performance.
But what sorts of topics get covered in these one-to-one coaching sessions?
While this is by no means a comprehensive list, one-to-one coaching sessions may support managers with:
- Career progression and growth
- Developing as a new manager or leader
- Building confidence and competence
- Managing relationships and handling difficult conversations
- Finding meaningful work
- Becoming a coach to their team
- Improving resilience
- Establishing wellbeing
For the vast majority of organizations, work gets done in teams. The problem, however, is that teams often don’t perform to their full potential.
More often than not, because of a lack of leadership. And a lack of team habits that support high performance.
This is where team coaching comes in.
Unlike one-to-one coaching, team coaching helps improve the effectiveness and cohesiveness of workplace teams. More specifically, it focuses on helping leaders work with their teams to improve morale, productivity, engagement, and even wellbeing.
All in all, it helps teams identify their problems and create solutions, together.
But what does a team coaching session look like?
As with any type of coaching, it should be bespoke to the needs of your business. And in this case, the team in question. That said, team coaching topics may cover:
- How the team can become crystal clear on its purpose.
- How the team can become clear on the goals that need to be achieved, and the behaviors and mindsets that are needed to achieve these goals.
- How the team can make the most of the unique talent and experiences that every individual brings to the team.
- How they can optimize and balance both leadership and followership within the team.
- How they must bridge boundaries with other teams across the organization, developing a “team of teams”.
You can learn more about how team coaching compares to one-to-one coaching here.
Peer group coaching
Another type of leadership coaching worth talking about is peer group coaching.
As we mentioned earlier, peer group coaching is ideal for groups of managers that don’t work together, but are relatively equal in terms of their position and experience.
These sessions provide an opportunity for managers to experience collective shared learning, build resilience, ask questions, and hold one another accountable on actions.
They also creates a safe space for like-minded leaders to experiment with new practices, and incubate the successes that can grow into systematic cultural change.
But what exactly do these sessions cover? Well, topics may include:
- What challenges and opportunities can we share together as we develop in our careers?
- What different perspectives and experiences can we share as we discuss these challenges? How can we learn from each other?
- What are the commonalities and differences, and how can we better understand our strengths and blind spots?
- How can we practice new skills in a safe space including listening, being vulnerable, and getting comfortable with others’ perspectives?
- How can we practice asking insightful questions, helping people find their own solutions?
- Who will keep me accountable? Can group members give me regular feedback and input on progress as we share goals and plans?
- How can we provide a mutual support network?
Another advantage of peer group coaching is that the relationships between attendees often continue beyond the formal process. After all, these sessions develop trust and support, due to a shared commitment to confidentiality.
Training for in-house coaching teams
Leadership coaching doesn’t always have to be provided by external coaches. In fact, some organizations have in-house coaches, HR teams, or subject matter experts that can train employees within the organization themselves.
The thing is, they often need training to be able to do this effectively. Which is where Train the Trainer programs come in.
Train the Trainer programs specifically ensure that corporate trainers are equipped with the latest knowledge and skills needed to not only facilitate successful coaching sessions, but to also maximize learning transfer and knowledge retention amongst employees.
As with any other approach to leadership coaching, these sessions are bespoke to the needs of your business. In fact, when working with a service provider such as Saberr, we can co-create these programs with you.
Many leadership programs fail for the simple reason that there’s no simple way to apply what has been learned through real world practice.
In other words, learning simply doesn’t get reinforced.
But what if it did?
Well, with the right digital coaching software, it can. In fact, with a platform like Saberr, you can reinforce these leadership learnings, by enabling your managers to put their newly acquired skills into practice, in the flow of their day-to-day work.
Which then allows them to develop on-the-job. More specifically, it allows them to develop the habits and routines needed to lead high performing teams.
By delivering contextually relevant learning resources, techniques, templates and exercises at the moments they need them most, and by using timely nudges to prompt your managers into taking the necessary (and positive) actions.
Digital coaching software essentially closes the gap between learning and doing.
Leadership coaching program examples
While each leadership development program should be bespoke to the needs of your business, to help inspire you, we have provided a couple of examples below of what a program with Saberr might look like.
Keep in mind though that our programs also reference masterclasses and live sessions, both of which you can learn more about here.
Ensuring consistent leadership practice
The following example of a leadership coaching program would help improve leadership culture in a high-growth environment.
- The challenge: Historically, you’ve had a limited budget to develop leaders within your organization. This means that some managers have received little or no management training at all. Subsequently, there’s a lack of consistency in what is expected of people managers. As you enter the next phase of your growth, you want to ensure that more consistent standards are applied, and recognize the impact this will have on both performance and employee retention.
- Co-design: You want to get started quickly and need to run a program that can be delivered entirely remotely. We will therefore design a program using a blend of masterclasses (some that we have previously run and some entirely bespoke), and the digital platform. The program will be up and running within five weeks.
- Connect: We will engage with a cohort of managers across the business in several introductory masterclasses. These will be engaging sessions that develop a common narrative and ultimately ignites interest. The leaders will then be given access to the platform to run important follow on sessions with their teams.
- Continued support: Three follow-on masterclasses will take place throughout the year, exploring themes that arise as you develop the program.
- Digital: Again, the Saberr platform will be made available across the business. In fact, it can even be integrated into Microsoft Teams, meaning your employees don’t have to use yet another system.
Developing managers to lead hybrid teams
Below, we’ve included an example of a leadership coaching program designed to support leaders in adapting to a new hybrid working practice, post-pandemic.
- The challenge: Along with most of the world, your organization of 1,500 people switched to a fully remote working model during the pandemic. But since returning to the office, it’s become clear that there is a lack of clarity over how teams should be working effectively in this new hybrid environment.
- Co-design: To tackle this challenge, we would start by running a one-day offsite with both HR and senior management to explore and clarify the new working practices. This would include defining some agreed common standards across the business, while offering enough autonomy for teams to self manage as well.
- Connect: We could then run a bespoke masterclass in a bid to engage with leaders across the business, and to discuss the new ways of working, framing the approach as an experiment.
- Continued support: Next, we would set up peer group sessions run by our coaches, to review how new working practices are taking hold.
- Reinforce with digital: The Saberr platform will be made available to teams that want to use it to support their ways of working, and to ensure they’re developing the habits and routines needed to drive successful behavior change, and drive high performance in teams. We will then monitor take up, satisfaction, and impact.
Scalable leadership and team development
The following example is of a scalable leadership development program, focused on developing 3,000 managers at an international enterprise.
The challenge: As a large scale enterprise with a distributed leadership team, your main challenge when it comes to coaching is being able to have an impact at scale, whilst reducing the costs from previous leadership programs. You also need sustainable ROI. You have a significant and experienced HR team, as well as a number of in-house coaches.
Co-create and connect: We would design an initial two-month pilot program. This would specifically include a two-day Train the Trainer session, as well as a coaching program—combining masterclasses and digital support—for a cohort of managers. Following completion of the pilot, we would gather feedback and factor this into any subsequent program launch.
Continued support: The fuller program roll-out would have three key pillars; masterclasses, peer coaching, and digital.
Masterclasses with cohorts of team leaders, led by one external and two internal trainers. Subsequent waves of masterclasses will be delivered by your in-house team. This masterclass will cover the fundamentals of the new leadership program.
Peer group coaching with sets of seven team leaders, each in breakouts with clear commitments to their peers. These groups will meet every six weeks, and will have mutual accountability for how they are developing their teams.
Digital: This program will be entirely digitally enabled. HR and team leads will receive a quarterly review of program insights, both quantitative and qualitative. The platform can also be customized.
How Saberr supports leadership coaching
At Saberr, we offer bespoke coaching programs, tailored entirely to the needs of your business. We do this using a range of formats, combining both experiential and digital coaching.
While you can learn more about how we can work with you to develop an effective leadership program here, we’d also be happy to discuss your needs with you and answer any questions you may have. You can schedule a call here at a time that suits you.