What is your leadership style? There — you are all questions. Many get confused when asked this question because it is hard for oneself to fit into one leadership style box. You may think of yourself as a directional or a situational leader. And you probably aren’t thinking of yourself as a coach. But adopting coaching as a leadership style will get far away from traditional styles into the avenues of innovation and team commitment. Thriving growth in the digital age has much to do with the sense that monumental change doesn’t happen overnight. For that, you will benefit by investing in your coaching skills.   

coaching as a leadership style on virtual teamsTypes of Leadership Styles and Why Coaching Matters

Let us assume you are aware of your dominant managerial and leadership tendencies. You understand that different situations require different responses. But you are unaware when and how you use them 100%.

Even if you’ve never put the soft glove of coaching leadership, you have, once or twice, used the following leadership styles:   

Democratic Leadership

Team members largely participate in the decision-making process. Their voice is heard, and their opinion on how you shape the business strategy matters. Democratic leadership style paves the middle ground between authority for the manager and freedom for employees.

Autocratic Leadership 

Also called authoritarian, the leader who adopts this leadership style tends to make all decisions without employee participation, sets business goals, and controls everything. As a result, employees have a low level of autonomy. Although being more controlling is sometimes necessary, this shouldn’t necessarily be your “style”. It gets less popular day-to-day. 

Transactional Leadership 

The transactional leadership style encompasses adjusting employees’ ways with incentives/rewards and punishments. As you can imagine, the reinforcement theory borrowed from basic behavioral psychology doesn’t always work. Due to its slippery slope design, it can hurt the relationship with your employee and produce below-par business results.  

Transformational Leadership 

The transformational leadership style focuses on encouraging and creating change alongside your employees. The point of becoming a transformational leader is to guide change with vision and inspire employees (your followers) to take on leadership qualities themselves. It is an empowering leadership style, resulting in autonomy, responsibility, and agency.

Servant Leadership 

The servant-leader is similar to a public servant. Their focus is to serve the needs of the employees and the organization as a whole. By putting the needs of the employees first, acquiring power and or control is the least of the servant-leader worries.  

Bureaucratic Leadership 

Traditional leadership in large corporations is, in many cases, bureaucratic — burdened with policies and procedures and established vertical hierarchies. That is changing with the flexible virtual team hierarchy.

Laissez-Faire Leadership 

The laissez-faire leadership style is easygoing with minimal interfering, in many attributes like a free-market economy. It rules a more relaxed company culture, with values of personal accountability. It is quite the opposite of micro-managing. 

Charismatic Leadership 

Charismatic leaders do not rely on legal or hierarchical authority but on their charisma, charm, and power to influence. When things feel stuck in an organization, charismatic leaders can push for change, thanks to their impressive communication skills and powerful personality. 

The combined range of all these types of leadership styles is sometimes called the full-range leadership model.

And it makes sense — why would you want to put yourself under one label? It is best to use all leadership styles you have at your disposal. You are the leader and business changes, be they positive or negative, result from your leadership style.

So how does coaching leadership stand in the complexity of management skills?

Listen to the Virtual Frontier Podcast for more about coaching and leadership:

What is Coaching Leadership?

The coaching leadership style includes a specific set of communication and emotional intelligence skills that support employees to be the best version of themselves and thus produce high-performing work results. 

Coaching Leadership Skills

Coaches need to have well-developed active listening, self-awareness, creativity, and empathy skills. These skills drive employees towards personal accomplishment and growth. 

The Role of the Leader Coach

The role of the leader-coach requires a certain level of passivity and responsiveness, leaving employees to pick up their own insights. Therefore, coaching can be difficult for many managers. They are usually the drivers, the engines, and the go-getters.

Letting go can be difficult, but it is nonetheless fruitful when you know how to use it. 

Can coaching as a leadership style be sandwiched among two, three, or more of the above styles? Coaching leadership assumes you know yourself and your unique traits above all. And it can occasionally include taking action that relates to transformational, laissez-faire, and democratic leadership style.

coaching as a leadership style skillsHowever, it requires:

  • Adapting your leadership style to the situation.
  • Not knowing all answers.
  • Not controlling all outcomes.   

If you are ready to develop your coaching leadership skills, read on!

How to Develop a Coaching Leadership Style

Coaching doesn’t produce results under pressure.

“Just get it done” may win you the battle, but it is hardly likely to win you the war. 

1. Coaching as a leadership style focuses on personal development. It takes time, so you need to be ready to leave some daily tasks on the back burner.  

2. You have to be creative to be a coach. Creativity is the ability to solve old problems in new ways.

3. Coaching takes will on behalf of the coach and the coached. The employee must have the will to make changes. You have to be willing to step back and let them do that at their own pace.

4. When you coach, you build on your long-term work resources. When you execute, you build upon your short-term resources. You need to know the difference and how much of both you can fit in a day or a week.  

5. Coaching leadership requires personal work, too. Unless you are equipped with admirable self-awareness, the coaching role can be a challenge. Self-awareness as a concept means you know your character, personality and understand your feelings. 

6. Be concrete and hold the focus. The result of all that investment into the relationship should be making mutually beneficial headway and performance improvement. Be clear and focus on the reality of the situation to take positive action.

7. Coaching results in exceptional work. Work that is not only good or excellent but above and beyond expectation, is often a result of applying coaching as a leadership style. Aim for high-quality standards.

Coaching Leadership Style on Virtual Teams

Great coaches ask thought-provoking questions.

As the leader-coach, you should ask and listen, rather than talk and know all the answers. Take your employee’s developmental plan and motivate the employee to keep track of their progress by asking inspiring questions that produce self-discovery.

Coaching and Delegation

Use coaching in delegation. Delegation always includes an element of coaching to help your team members develop new goals and find them the right role in the organization. Empowered delegation is a lot more than just assigning a task. Artful delegation requires you to motivate, encourage, and guide.         

Coaching as a leadership style derives a sense of value and importance for the employee.

Value and importance are strong employee relations tools, and coaching is a genuine way to apply those tools and evoke the sense of healthy team relationships.    

Great coaches have purpose and intent. Interested in seeing how to improve productivity and commitment on your team by developing specific coaching skills? Give us a shout below! 


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