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I would think that if there’s one concept with which any businessperson, entrepreneur or organisational leader would concur with, the notion that one cannot expect a return on investment if one does not invest, would be it! It may be obvious, and some might even believe it to be a superfluous statement. But then, how often do we not invest in ourselves and still expect to remain relevant and continue to perform well? More pointedly, how often do we not invest in our people and expect them to be great performers?

Investing in our people is not confined to sending them for training or a day out on a team building activity. It is, more importantly, the time leaders at all levels in the organisation spend in supporting their direct reports within an organisational climate that reflects an open, empowering culture. Teams get stronger with every positive interaction between its members and stakeholders. In today’s organisational landscape, traditional command and control models are becoming ineffective in driving high performance. A paradigm shift is taking place, where the team leader as coach approach is gaining prominence to unlock the full potential of their teams, foster a culture of growth and innovation, and drive organisational success.

As a business coach, I am not so naïve to suggest that adopting a ‘coaching approach’ is the approach to follow in all circumstances. As leaders, we need to wear different hats at different times: there are times when we need to provide more direction, but then there are times when we are presented with a “coaching moment”, instances which provide you as team leader with an opportunity to enhance your team’s capabilities by adopting a coaching approach.

Adopting a coaching approach focuses on empowering and developing individuals through coaching conversations and supportive guidance. It involves fostering a collaborative and growth-oriented environment, where team members are encouraged to take ownership of their development and contribute their unique talents. The team leader leverages powerful coaching techniques to enhance performance, nurture talent, and facilitate continuous learning.

The benefits are various:

1. A coaching approach helps team leaders to foster an environment conducive to creativity, innovation, and accountability when they empower their teams by facilitating the exploration of solutions and involvement in decisions.

2. It helps team leaders to identify their team members’ strengths and to nurture talent within their teams through coaching conversations and by providing personalized development plans and opportunities for growth leading to the attraction, retention, and development of high-potential employees, impacting on the organizations long-term prospects.

3. By promoting open and effective communication within the team and across the organization, it fosters trust, active listening, and dialogue which leads to teams collaborating more effectively by share insights and making informed decisions.

4. The team leader adopting a coaching approach empowers individuals to maximize their performance, contributing to overall organizational success by focusing on strengths, setting clear goals, and providing continuous feedback.

A coaching approach is a question, above all, of culture, mindset, and emotional intelligence. Leaders adopting a coaching approach need to invest in developing their coaching skills. This includes learning and mastering powerful questioning techniques, active listening, and providing constructive feedback.

They also need to cultivate a coaching culture throughout the organisation encouraging and supporting managers at all levels to adopt a coaching mindset, emphasising the importance of employee development and growth. One cannot emphasise enough, therefore, the need for the C-Suite to create the right organisation culture, with trust and psychological safety being foundational to the team leader as coach approach. This is because employees need to feel comfortable expressing ideas, taking risks, and learning from failure if a team leader as coach approach is to be effective. The C-Suite also needs to create space within the organisation’s structure, operations, and work processes for coaching to occur. They need to allow for regular reflection sessions into team meetings and one-on-one discussions for team members to reflect on their achievements, challenges, and areas for growth.

It should be clear that adopting a coaching approach does not mean that organisation performance in terms of efficiency and effectiveness, and indeed the bottom line, is sacrificed.  On the contrary, the coaching approach brings together the team leader’s focus on both the task and their people because effective coaching involves striking a balance between providing support and holding team members accountable. The coaching approach sets clear expectations, provides resources, and offer guidance, while also holding individuals responsible for their actions and outcomes.

Above all, leaders at all levels need to lead by example, demonstrating coaching behaviours and embodying the values of growth and continuous learning. They need to show a willingness to receive feedback, engage in self-reflection, and actively seek opportunities for personal and professional development.

The team leader as coach approach represents a transformative leadership style. By adopting a coaching mindset, leaders at all levels can empower their teams, develop talent, and drive organisational success. Through personalised development plans, coaching conversations, and the cultivation of a coaching culture, leaders can create an environment that fosters collaboration, innovation, and continuous learning. Embracing the team leader as coach approach not only enhances individual and team performance but also contributes to the overall success and sustainability of the organisation in today’s dynamic business landscape.


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