The Change Forum - Learning Solutions for Leadership & Change
These articles are drawn from our information FacftFiles and the program Guide/Toolkit that supports our 2-day Coaching Leaders ClinicCC E-News seasonal eZine - filled with articles, ideas and topical tips that are relevant and informative regardless of date published. See our Newsletter page to download your copy now and let your colleagues know... Subscribe to receive new issues, other information and articles as they become available...



Coaching in Action
Taking more of a Coaching Approach
What it Takes to be a Coaching Leader
The Coaching Leaders' Clinic



Article to Download:

Taking a Coaching Approach to Leadership


Quick-Clix for Coaching

Tips to download

and share


Coaching can best be defined by seeing how it works in action






More articles like this in our seasonal

CC E-News

read online or download
















































To put it simply, command-and-control is out, coaching is in. Nowadays, staff seek self-responsibility, autonomy and challenge. A coaching approach taps into the deep-seated need we all have to challenge ourselves, achieve the things that really matter to us and accomplish results that come from our own initiative.





























While there are no specific personality types or attributes that particularly make one coach better than another – and much of this is situational – there are some qualities that probably have a better effect than others….

































We don't think you need to invest thousands in becoming a certified coach to become an effective coaching leader....


The Coaching Leaders Toolkit

Extracts from FactFiles, Articles and our program Guidebook

by Bill Cropper, Director - The Change Forum


Coaching in Action

...a natural form of leadership

Reading the job profile of the modern manager can be overwhelming! Managers aren’t just expected to 'Plan, Lead, Organise, Control' any longer... They’re expected to have people skills, team-building and relationship capabilities, be emotionally intelligent, entrepreneurial, capacity developers – the list goes on and on.

One of the natural ways human beings lead and support is by showing others around them how to do things better, how to handle challenges better, how to be better at what we do or who we are or how to survive better when our world changes. Natural leaders always emerge in any tribe, group or community – and one of the ways they lead is through coaching and mentoring their followers. We’ve been doing it since we wore furs, lived in caves and coached others in the best way to handle a spear-thrower or track a woolly mammoth.

Obviously, athletes, sports teams and other performers have recognised the value of coaching for generations.  So, while coaching itself isn’t anything new, what is new, is it’s only in the last 15 years or so that the idea of coaching has trickled down into business organisations and management thinking, as a tool to build organisational learning capacity and a new way of leading people more effectively.

Learning is central to being an effective leader. And more leaders now connect successful outcomes with the ability to take on new leadership roles and approaches that differ dramatically from the old mental models of management. We call these people ‘learning-centred leaders’.  Whether they’re part of the formal hierarchy or not, learning-centred leaders play a pivotal role in creating the climate for high performing teams and work cultures that learn by building the capacity for others around them to learn and achieve quality outcomes.

One of 8 key roles of a learning-leader is coaching. It's more powerful and personalised than traditional training, it happens within the everyday work environment, not divorced from it, and it supports a dynamic, performance-based culture where people continually learn to improve.

“Organisations throughout the world spend billions of dollars on training programs each year. Yet research…suggests that only 8 to 12 per cent of those who attend training courses translate new skills and knowledge into measurable performance improvement or business results. Essentially this is because most training programs do not allow for the skills to be put into practice…more and more organisations are recognising that the training and learning cycle is incomplete. Learning is not sustained unless individualised follow-up is incorporated into a training program. For example, recent studies suggest that without follow-up coaching 87 per cent of new skills learned will be lost. Typically, and this is common across many organisations, individuals revert to old ways when the new skills prove too difficult or awkward to use… Coaching can prevent this slippage.” Zeus & Skiffington, Coaching at Work p.14 and The Coaching at Work Toolkit p. 7


Coaching can best be defined by seeing how it works in action.  Sometimes in executive team coaching sessions, I find myself in the top floors of tall buildings. If I want people to step-back and reflect on what’s going on with their interactions, I ask them to imagine a window cleaner has just hoisted themselves down to this floor and is looking in on us. “What would the window-cleaner observe about what’s happening with this group right now?” – I ask. (It’s an image of course, for taking the stance of a neutral observer.)

Now Imagine this. The window cleaner lowers him/herself to the next floor where s/he sees 2 people sitting in armchairs in an office. It’s a coaching session (though she doesn’t know this). What would the window cleaner observe going on in a good coaching session?

Here’s some things we think they might see:


Coaching is a conversation: The people involved are engaged in an extended dialogue. They’re paying close attention to each other. The atmosphere isn’t tense – it isn’t a debate or difficult discussion. The climate is relaxed but sort of concentrated


Coaching is about relationships: There seems to be a rapport between the two people. The climate of their conversation seems harmonious, there’s no sense of nervousness. They seem to know and trust one another since they both lean in towards each other now and again. There’s a sense of connection


Coaching involves questioning and listening: One of the people (it’s the coach) is doing quite a bit less talking. The coach listens intently to whatever the story is the other person’s telling – now and again interjecting with a question


Coaching gets people to reflect: The questions the coach asks must mean a lot to the other person – because they sometimes pause, looking up as if the answer were somewhere on the ceiling. They reflect first before resuming speaking


Coaching involves asking the right questions: Now and again the person doing most of the talking has that “Aha!” look of insight on their face – as if they’d never thought of asking that question themselves. Their face becomes quizzical or ‘lights up’


Coaching is about energising people: During the discussion, the one who’s been doing most of the talking (it’s the coachee) gets visibly animated, excited or writes something down as if it was directions to hidden treasure


There’s a sense of excitement and self-discovery in the room. The coachee gets to their feet at one stage and makes a list on the whiteboard. The coach is smiling, nodding and encouraging


Coaching is about challenging and confronting limiting beliefs: “Oops. Here’s a change,” says our window-cleaner. The coachee looked a bit sheepish and tense after the coach asked that last question. Their eyes are downcast and they nod – though as if it’s painful to do so


Coaching’s about finding/trying out solutions to specific problems: Now the coach is up at the board and they’ve written up “What actions can I Try Out?” Looks like a bit of a mini-brainstorm – the coach is listing up things the other person’s telling them.

By providing you with an imagined scenario (whether you liked it or not is irrelevant for now) and then asking you to think carefully about your observations and make some inferences from them, we demonstrated that much information is available to us, if we observe what’s going on. This is one way a coach can use various tools to help people find answers for themselves. We showed you a little bit of what coaching in action is like.

And this of course reinforces a few other things that coaching involves. For instance:


Coaching helps people tap into what they know. It builds on the strengths people already have and helps them find the answers that are within themselves


Coaching helps people analyse what’s going on with a problem they’re having, developing alternative possible solutions, and identifying actions to try out these solutions


Coaching helps people rethink situations, reframe limiting beliefs, free up their thinking and review their approach to situations, events and themselves to achieve their potential.


Coaching helps change things about behaviour – old habits and patterns that restrict us from thinking or doing things differently, ones that often hold us back.


Coaching is about self-awareness – about challenging old beliefs and entrenched mental models and values to see how they impact on performance. Its about reinventing yourself and developing new beliefs and values that serve you better in the world.


Coaching is about action. Self exploration, problem analysis, etc are all set in a context of action – of doing something by setting personal goals and focusing on changes actions that will achieve them.


Coaching is about relationships – both the relationship you form with the person you’re coaching and…the relationships that person has with others around them, that create much of the context for coaching work (eg. “How do I handle Jim? I just don’t seem to be able to get through to him about how important OH&S audits are…”)

Coaching is also about feelings. Despite all the books on emotional intelligence and a general recognition that interpersonal and relational skills are critical competencies in the workplace (and at home), there remains form many, some suspicion and mistrust of ‘emotions’ in the workplace. The word ‘emotion’ conjures up images of vulnerability and weakness.

Summarising US research into coaching, Daniel Goleman concludes: “An open and trusting relationship is the foundation of success in on-the-job coaching… The key to success as coaches? The best coaches show a genuine personal interest in those they guide, and have empathy for and an understanding of their employees. Trust was crucial – when there was little trust in the coach, advice went unheeded. This happened also when the coach was impersonal or cold, or the relationship seemed too one-sided or self-serving. Coaches who showed respect, trustworthiness, and empathy were the best.” Daniel Goleman Working with Emotional Intelligence pp. 147-148


Guidebook Extract: The Coaching Leaders' Toolkit  -- Copyright © Bill Cropper 2004-15


Back to top


Taking more of a Coaching Approach:

...command and control is out


A self-proclaimed company-man, Ivan put results before his people. He drove them hard, and himself harder. Diligent, conscientious, indefatigable, his intense focus on deliverables made him intolerant of failures or frailties. He expected everyone else to perform to the same demanding standards he did.  Ivan’s sole interest, so he said, was getting people to meet targets. Sparing no time to tender to people’s needs, Ivan proudly pronounced himself lacking in emotional intelligence, and believed his bellicose, no-nonsense manner earned him respect because “it got things done”. He paid little heed to high turn-over rates amongst his project managers, the fearful responses he got, or that his staff nick-name was “Ivan the Terrible”.

I still encounter plenty of Ivans out there in work-world. They’re one big reason for taking more of a coaching approach to leadership. It’s a more effective, emotionally intelligent style – a very powerful, personalised way to motivate and build people-capacity at the same time as boosting those bottom-line business results. Taking a coaching approach can give you a whole new way to relate, and make the most of the resource you rely on most – your people. It can significantly improve productivity, relationships and the way people ‘warm-up’ to their jobs.

Hersey and Blanchard first described what they called the coaching style of leadership way back in the late 1960s. In 2002, Daniel Goleman gave us a new-millennium reboot in his book on Primal Leadership, where he included the coaching leader as one of his six leadership styles. As he said: “Coaching boosts not just employees' capabilities but also their self-confidence, helping them function both more autonomously and at a higher performance level.” (Working with Emotional Intelligence p. 147)

More than ever these days, people are pretty dictator-and-directive resistant.  They want to be coached not ‘Ivanised’ – to be encouraged, not coerced, bossed around and told what to do. This applies especially to ‘twenty-something’ workers who on the whole reject any kind of autocratic, “shut-up, do what you’re told” approach. It just doesn’t work.

Belligerent and over-controlling bosses like Ivan create toxic work cultures that sap morale, motivation and personal productivity. They can end-up brutalising a workforce and perpetuating this kind of behaviour. Overly directive, pace-setting leaders, with driving styles and a relentlessly exclusive focus on results can push people too hard, creating stress and malnourished work relationships.

Curiously, pace-setting leadership (another of Goleman’s six styles) is what many public and private enterprises push for. The high standards such leaders insist on may initially impress, but the pacesetting approach can back-fire if staff feel they’re being pressured and pushed too hard by a leader’s unceasing demands for more quantity, better quality, quicker results that can actually provoke anxiety and lead to loss of focus.

To put it simply, command-and-control is out, coaching is in. Nowadays, staff seek self-responsibility, autonomy and challenge. A coaching approach taps into the deep-seated need we all have to challenge ourselves, achieve the things that really matter to us and accomplish results that come from our own initiative. Forward-thinking leaders see the futility of trying to control others, and the importance of adopting a coaching style. Here’s some other reasons why:

bulletA coaching style is more resonant and emotionally intelligent. It significantly improves relationships. Staff want their leaders to be approachable; to relate to them with empathy, understanding, positive encouragement – and coaching provides that kind of platform.
bulletOrganisations want people who can think independently, take initiative, and assume responsibility without waiting to be told. They’re keen to develop themselves, so they can perform better. The concept of a good employee has shifted from one who does what they’re told, to one who’s self-directed, resilient and continuously learning.
bulletCoaching is a much more constructive and engaging leadership style. It taps into the deep-seated need we all have to challenge ourselves, achieve things that really matter to us, and accomplish results that spring from our own initiative. It helps to bring out people’s creativity and talent, which generates motivation, interest and commitment.
bulletA coaching style also promotes collaboration and self-responsibility. Leaders shoulder less of the burden alone. People are less reliant on the leader for direction, which increases self-sufficiency and frees you up from time-consuming and frustrating ‘micro-managing’.

Workplaces that successfully establish coaching cultures also say they see significant improvements in terms of retaining staff, reduced conflict, open communication, more job satisfaction and an increased overall level of happiness and productivity.

Most staff I’ve come across not only want to better themselves but also get along better with others.  A coaching style of leadership does both. It has a successful track-record in getting improved performance results, and, it gives leaders a new way of relating to people – of facilitating individuals and teams to direct themselves, rather than have to lead from the top all the time. 

In fact, as Peter Senge, founding father of the Learning Organisation movement once pointed out, there’s a direct connection between a relationship-based coaching approach, and the ability to create dynamic, learning environments where individuals and teams continually improve. This is the essence of what Senge called Team Learning – one of his famous 5 Learning Disciplines.

Continue reading... the full Article: Taking more of a Coaching Approach

Copyright © Bill Cropper 2015

Back to top


What it takes to be a Coaching Leader

capabilities and characteristics...


The main reason leaders have reservations about adopting a coaching approach is that they feel uncomfortable with the current level of their coaching skills and often lack useful coaching tools. Sometimes, this is combined with fears a coaching approach may expose personal weaknesses and deficits in terms of people skills.

So what does it take to be a coaching leader? Here are some capabilities and characteristics of effective coaching leaders we think are important:


Self-awareness and personal mastery: All coaching leaders need to be able to discuss things like values, choice, emotions, thinking and behaviour patterns with people they coach. This means being a learner yourself.


Empathy and understanding: Being able to empathise with other’s emotions, understand different world views, values, emotions, fears and aspirations rather than invalidate or pass judgement builds trust – the foundation of any good coaching relationship.


Relationship and rapport-building: Coaching leaders need to build rapport and establish trust. The coaching relationship won’t work unless you’re seen as friendly, open, honest, authentic, and approachable – someone who can be confided in and opened up to.


Energising and inspirational: A capacity to inspire others helps them focus and stick to working through often difficult issues, limits or constraints. Coaching leaders operate from positive appreciation. You encourage and building on strengths rather than focusing on deficits, diminishing people or their abilities.


Flexibility of approach: Most of all, this means meeting the priorities of the person you’re coaching, not your own. Resisting the urge to do it for them and allowing them to discover their own insights and solutions.


Mental agility: Being able to adapt coaching strategies and tools in the moment to fit the emerging needs of people you coach and helping them analyse a situation and come up with actions, rather than provide answers.


Conversational capability: Connecting with the people you coach through conversations – which helps you understand others, maintain constructive, open and creative relationships, challenge respectfully and resolve conflict and difference.


Perspective-takers: Coaching leaders help people sort out the range of issues in any given situation, to see how they relate to each other and the big picture. They provide clarity and context for meaningful discussions to occur among individuals and teams, help others understand their own and other’s perspectives and see alternatives.

There are 2 other important things about coaching leaders.


First, they always look out for growth opportunities in themselves and others.


And second, they accept full accountability for everything that happens in taking a coaching approach. They make themselves part of the solution as well as actively engaging others to seek solutions to problems rather then assign blame.

As you ease yourself into the coaching leader role, there’s bound to be obstacles, just as there’ll be things that help you in this transition too. Done badly, the coaching style looks a lot like micro-managing. Done well, it builds self-sufficiency and trust, strengthen capabilities and relationships and can have a highly positive impact on the emotional climate of teams and workplaces.

Here’s some success factors – things that help


You learn to use conversational coaching tools to elicit experiences, learning, wisdom


You become more approachable, known for seeing possibilities others miss and having a personal vision that inspires others


You see unrealised potential in people where others just see problems and build rapport


You can challenge others and give feedback without making them feel criticised


You guide people to create their own solutions for moving forward rather than succumb to the temptation to work it out for them

And here’s some things that get in the way


Expecting coaching to provide a "quick fix" to performance or using it to "fix" other people


Coaching from your own agenda – feeling you have to be the expert/have the answers


Lack of recognition of people’s differences in motivation, commitment and awareness


Difficulty establishing close relationships based on trust or a need to control others


Impatience with other’s reluctance to change – seeing it and resistance as the same thing


Underestimating peoples’ potential – and failing to appreciate, respect and empower


Lack of perseverance, resilience and self-awareness

Extract from FactFile: Taking a coaching approach to leadership.  Read more or Download: FactFile 12

Copyright © Bill Cropper 2008


Back to top


The Coaching Leaders' Clinic

capabilities and characteristics...

Whatever the coaching context, all coaches need maps and game-plans – processes and tools to help you work in a structured way with the person you’re coaching. More leaders would probably take on a coaching role if they had some help with the how. One of the big obstacles is a lack of know-how and confidence.

Part of supporting the transition to a coaching role is equipping you with tools and practice opportunities that assist you to learn how to do this safely. And that’s what The Change Forum’s Coaching Leaders’ Clinic is all about.

If you want to turn your leaders into coaches, The Coaching Leaders’ Clinic can be delivered in-house as a useful adjunct to your leadership learning or coaching culture strategy. Segments of the clinic can also be delivered individually through personalised coaching sessions.

Want to find out “what all this coaching stuff is about”? Download a copy of our Coaching Prospectus. It gives you some simple, straightforward answers to help you make up your mind whether our coaching approach might suit you.

Back to top


  for future news, factfiles, articles and tips

Contact Us to enquire about having our The Coaching Leaders Clinic delivered in-house for your leadership group or team.


Back to top

Home Up


The Coaching Leaders' CLinic

2-Day practical clinic on adopting a Coaching style of Leadership - Techniques, Tools & Tips

See Brochure for Outline

Read on-line Summary for locations & dates

Register On-line...

Discounts available

Call to enquire

07-4068 7591


FactFile-12: Coaching Leader

Read on-line or Download & Share with colleagues & friends

Quick-Clix for COACHING

Tips and Tool extracts from our Learning Guides to share with colleagues, staff & friends

  1. What is Coaching? The 9 Key Elements

  2. The 7 Coaching Capabilities

  3. Characteristics of good Coaching Leaders

  4. Coaching with the 5 Disciplines

  5. Coaching Values


FactFile-12: Coaching Leader

Read on-line or Download & Share with colleagues, staff and friends

Copyright © 2018 The Change Forum  |  Privacy Policy  |  Contact Us  |  Recommended Sites & Readings  |  Site Map