Emotional Leadership – Coaching Style


Coaching Leadership - Six Styles Of Emotional Leadership​

Daniel Goleman’s book, Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence discusses the six leadership styles leaders can take to ensure a healthy working environment.

An effective leader has the versatility to implement all six leadership styles in different situations. The leadership styles Goleman outlined in his book are authoritative, democraticaffiliative, pacesetting, commanding, and coaching leader.

In this article, we will focus on the coaching leadership style.

Table of Contents

What is the Coaching Leadership Style?

The coaching leadership style aims to create a culture of high performance. Thus, it focuses on the development of team members. A coaching leader’s goal is to identify the strengths and weaknesses of employees. This leadership style encourages employees to improve their skills and capabilities. By addressing their strengths and weaknesses, employees can contribute to achieving the long-term goals of the organization.

A coaching leader will regularly check in with their team members to identify their setbacks. From there, the coaching leader will address those setbacks and focus on helping their team members develop. 

The coaching-style is committed to partnership and collaboration. Coaching leaders focus on communicating well, enabling creativity, and motivating staff to have confidence in making good decisions.

Characteristics of a Coaching Leadership Style

  • Collaboration
  • Empowerment
  • Fulfillment
  • Learning and Development
  • Active Listening
  • Feedback
  • Trust and Safety
  • Guidance
  • Delegation
  • Empathy and Awareness
  • Personal and Professional development

Pros and Cons of Coaching Leadership

Like every leadership style, coaching leadership has its advantages and disadvantages. 

Pros of Coaching Leadership

  • Encourages collaboration between leader and team members
  • Sets clear expectations
  • Identifies weaknesses and transform them into strengths
  • Focuses on being supportive and not judgemental
  • Creates opportunities for growth and creative thinking

Cons of Coaching Leadership

  • Requires a lot of time, energy, and patience
  • Coaching may not be the best choice for strictly results-driven companies

How is a Coaching Leadership Style Different from a Traditional Management Style?

A traditional management style usually involves a “command and control” perspective. In other words, the leader knows best and has all the answers. On the other hand, within a coaching management style, the leader and team members work together. This not only empowers the coaching leader, but it empowers the team members as well. Therefore, unlike a traditional management style, coaching leadership does not create a “leader rules all” dynamic. 

For a complete picture of how coaching leadership differs from a traditional management style, look at the following scenarios:

Task vs. Relationship

Coaching management styles focus on developing rapport with employees and using that as a basis for skill development and task motivation. In contrast, traditional management places greater emphasis on the task direction. This involves dictating responsibilities and deadlines to employees with little regard for their feedback or concerns. At the same time, a coaching leader motivates their employees to take ownership of their responsibilities and is open to feedback.

Timeframe Orientation

Coaches tend to maintain an awareness of the long-term business implications of their leadership style, whereas traditional management tends to take on a “here-and-now” approach. The coaching leadership style aims to develop team members for long-term goal achievement. Traditional management styles put a high emphasis on maximizing production in the short term. The coaching style of leadership recognizes that a dictatorial style can demotivate employees, contribute to low morale, and cause high turnover.


Traditional management styles operate behind the principle that employees need to push to get work done and be monitored closely. This philosophy also claims that employees, by nature, do not like work. On the other hand, coaching leaders believe that employees value work. The leader’s job is to provide a positive culture where team members can thrive and reach their potential.

How a Coaching Leadership Style Empowers Employees

Coaching empowers employees to do exceptional work. The relationship between a coaching leader and their team members helps uncover hidden strengths and weaknesses within the leader. Coaching leaders encourage team members to set goals to work on their weaknesses and perfect their strengths.

An effective coaching leader holds reflective sessions to help employees fully recognize their improvements and appreciate the work they’ve done to reach their goals.

The coaching leadership style empowers employees by helping them unlock their true potential. This differs from the traditional management style of command and control, which can hinder potential.

Coaching leaders help employees realize their potential by increasing self-responsibility and self-belief. To do this, many coaching leaders give their team members choices wherever possible. This provides a good sense of support and challenge.

Through an “open choice” approach, team members are encouraged and empowered to make their own decisions. As a result, they become more self-sufficient. Having more self-reliant and independent staff offers many benefits to an organization. These benefits include fewer errors, improved quality of work, and better client interactions.

When to Use a Coaching Leadership Style

There are many situations in which leaders may want to implement a coaching style. For example, employees may lack the skills or knowledge to reach a shared vision. Or perhaps they may become jaded, tired, or unmotivated over time.

In situations like these, a coaching leadership style can be highly effective. Such leadership can provide direction and motivation to a discouraged team. It can also encourage employees to be more confident in their abilities and in further developing their skills.

Coaching leadership can also be helpful in situations where team members have issues working together. For example, there may be differences in departmental cultures.

In this case, team members from different departments may view a single project in several ways based on the bias or needs of the individuals, teams, and departments. The coaching leadership style can help break down barriers and develop a culture where team members want to work together.

How to Be a Coaching Leader

Now that you are more familiar with what the coaching leadership style entails, you might be interested in implementing the style into your own company.  Follow these steps to become a successful coaching leader:

  1. Determine areas of concern. The first step to implementing a coaching leadership style is to determine how your employees can improve the quality of their work. Sit down with your employees. Ask them open-ended questions about any issues they are having with their work. Connect with them on a personal level. This will help you understand their perspectives and how they think. Having a solid understanding of different attitudes, personalities, and goals will help shape your strategy.
  2. Maintain a healthy balance between praise and criticism. It’s essential to provide feedback with a positive outlook. For example, when speaking with employees about their work performance, lead in with what they did well. Then, provide advice on how they can improve. By starting a conversation positively, it creates a more smooth transition into constructive criticism.
  3. Collaborate with team members one-on-one. Many employees feel more comfortable in one-on-one sessions. Take this time to gauge their level of interest and ask how you can improve the work environment. These sessions can not only help employees feel comfortable, but they can also make employees feel like you value them and their work. This helps create a positive work culture. 
  4. Follow up. Once you have established trust and showed your team members how to improve their performance, follow up with them to gauge if their performance improved, Regular follow-up meetings help establish accountability with your employees. These meetings can also help encourage employees to aim for further improvement.

A coaching leader is only one of many leadership styles. Be sure to visit our blog for in-depth overviews of other leadership styles. You can also contact us or watch our podcast, X Cultural, for more information.