What Is a Leadership Coach and Is It Essential?

Organisations can thrive or stumble based on the quality of their leaders. In fact, Very Well Mind (2024) noted that “A strong relationship between a leader and their employees can make or break a company.”

Therefore, it’s no surprise that many companies are investing heavily in developing their leadership teams. One increasingly popular method for creating strong leadership is leadership coaching. But what exactly is a leadership coach and is it essential?

Leadership coaching is a development process wherein a coach works with an individual to enhance leadership skills, strategic thinking, and overall performance. It’s a bespoke approach that can guide and support leaders in reaching their professional, personal, and organisational goals.

Coaching is not remedial but developmental. It is now widely accepted by most organisations and managers/leaders as a valuable asset rather than something to be embarrassed about. Receiving coaching signifies being on the fast track to success, as it helps professionals enhance their skills, overcome challenges, and achieve their goals more efficiently. This perspective shift has made coaching a sought-after tool for career and leadership advancement.

A leadership coach typically engages in several key activities:

    1. Assessment and Feedback: Using various tools and methodologies, such as 360-degree feedback, personality assessments, and performance evaluations, coaches help leaders understand their strengths and areas for improvement.
    2. Goal Setting: Coaches work with leaders to set clear, achievable goals that align with their personal and organisational objectives.
    3. Skill Development: Through personalised coaching sessions, they help leaders develop essential skills such as communication, emotional intelligence, conflict resolution, and strategic thinking.
    4. Accountability and Support: Coaches provide ongoing support and hold leaders accountable for their progress, ensuring they stay on track to achieve their goals.

Coaching extends its benefits beyond senior executives however, catering to professionals at every career stage. For newcomers navigating the complexities of the corporate realm, coaching offers invaluable guidance and skill development. Likewise, individuals transitioning into new roles – be it through promotion, lateral moves, or career shifts – find essential support through coaching to adapt and excel in their evolving responsibilities. In essence, irrespective of career level, the impact of coaching is profound, fostering growth, resilience, and enhanced capabilities.

The Business Case for Leadership Coaching

The benefit of coaching for individual leaders is difficult to deny, though some may reasonably wonder whether it provides a tangible return on investment (ROI) for the business…

The answer is it’s difficult to quantify since leadership coaching can benefit the organisation, just as much as the individual executive, well into the future. However, let’s delve into some of the positive impacts leadership coaching can have.

Enhanced Performance: 

Leadership coaching isn’t just about fixing weaknesses; it’s about managing weaknesses and amplifying strengths. Through personalised coaching sessions, leaders can identify their unique talents and leverage them to achieve peak performance. I use the Gallup Newman StrengthsFinder assessment for all my clients, including the most seasoned and experienced leaders. They find it incredibly helpful in reinforcing their understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, often gaining new insights that lead to greater effectiveness and growth.

Whether it’s refining communication skills, mastering conflict resolution, or honing strategic thinking – coaching guides and supports individuals to excel in their roles. Inevitably, this filters throughout the organisation, driving productivity, efficiency, and ultimately, bottom-line results.

In fact, companies improve their earnings by 147% per share when they increase their number of talented managers and double their rate of engaged employees (Gallup, 2024). Additionally, a Forbes (2023) study reported that employees who feel supported by their manager are 3.4 times more likely to also report feeling engaged at work.

Accelerated Development:

Most leaders are expected to innovate and stay ahead of the curve but that demands commitment to continuous learning. Organisations which embrace this ethos are proven more likely to excel.

Leadership coaching provides a structured framework for ongoing development in which leaders are given the tools and skills to adapt to evolving challenges. By working on specific development areas and setting actionable goals, coaching accelerates the growth trajectory of leaders, guiding and supporting them to thrive in increasingly complex environments.

Improved Decision Making:

According to a report by PR Newswire (2023), a staggering 85% of business leaders have grappled with decision distress, spending significant time “regretting, feeling guilty about, or questioning a decision they made in the past year.”

Navigating complex decisions can prove arduous, particularly for business leaders faced with ambiguous situations and high-stakes choices. In such scenarios, leadership coaching can provide a supportive platform for leaders to explore diverse perspectives, challenge assumptions, and refine their decision-making processes. By nurturing greater self-awareness and fostering critical thinking skills, coaching empowers leaders to make well-informed decisions that yield positive outcomes for both their teams and their organisations alike.

Return on Investment

Qualitatively, leadership coaches have been found to improve employee morale, enhance communication, foster stronger team collaboration, and promote a positive organisational culture (The Economic Times, 2024).

Quantitatively, the ROI of leadership coaching can be seen in improved productivity and efficiency, reduced operating costs, increased revenue generation, and improved profits. According to American University (no date), a Metrix Global report found that executive coaching has a 788% ROI based on factors such as increased productivity and employee retention.

The Economic Times (2024) found that:

  • Productivity increased by 15% as managers applied better team management techniques and streamlined processes.
  • And, improved communication resulting from the coaching leads to a 30% decrease in production errors, directly impacting cost savings and customer satisfaction.

By providing tailored guidance, accountability, and support, coaches empower individuals of all levels and abilities to reach their full potential and navigate the complexities of business landscapes with confidence and agility.

Even the most talented and successful business people sometimes need help and support to perform at their best.

I’m David Webster and I founded Edlin Consulting in 2018 after a successful 35-year career as a lawyer and businessman. I specialise in helping clients with career progression and performance in the insurance and legal sectors and in working with entrepreneurs, founders and business leaders across multiple sectors.

The combination of my methodology with an empathetic approach allows me to quickly build high levels of trust and understanding. I aim for a healthy balance of challenge, support, humour and honesty, and pride myself on being insightful and pragmatic.

Reach out to me (david@edlinconsulting.co.uk) today to discuss how I can support and guide you.