A Manager’s Guide to Leadership Coaching

When people take on new leadership roles, it is a perfect time to consider coaching and training to support the person with the new leadership and performance challenges that are arising. Based on my coaching experience, along with the advice of others, here are eight questions and answers that managers may have about leadership coaching.

What Is Leadership Coaching?

A leadership coach is a qualified professional that works with individuals, often high-potential employees or entrepreneurs, to help them gain self-awareness, clarify goals, achieve their development objectives, unlock their potential, and act as a sounding board.

They are not consultants or therapists and usually refrain from giving advice or solving their client’s problems. Instead, they ask questions and provide frameworks to help the leaders clarify and solve their own problems.

What Exactly Does a Leadership Coach Do?

Leadership coaches provide a confidential and supportive sounding board to their clients. They ask questions, challenge assumptions, help provide clarity, and often provide resources, training, and frameworks. They may also administer and help interpret behavioral assessments, or shadow the employee during work days to help a client gain self-awareness of habits and behaviors to then establish appropriate and focused development goals.

What Does It Take to Become a Leadership Coach?

Anyone can call themselves a Leadership Coach. It is often retired executives, consultants, ex-HR or training practitioners who are active in this field.

There is no required certification to be a “Coach”. However, it is advised to hire someone with a formal training that is approved by the International Coach Federation (ICF) as an official certification. The typical examples are the iPEC or CTI certifications.

Who Hires Leadership Coaches?

Most companies hire leadership coaches as a way to invest in their top leaders and high potentials.

While executives may hire their own coaches (usually CEOs or business owners), it’s more common for companies to recommend a coach to a manager as a part of a leadership development program. The coachee could be newly promoted, be facing time management challenges or difficulties with team members, or is simply being groomed for larger roles.

What Does a Typical Leadership Coaching Process Look Like?

While there are many variations, leadership coaching usually involves an intake, assessment, goal setting, and development objectives and then progressing through the development plan, with periodic check-ins with the responsible manager. The process is over when the development goals are achieved, or when the coach and/or coachee decides that it should stop. The typical duration of a coaching engagement is 6 to 12 months.

What About Confidentiality in Leadership Coaching?

When it comes to leadership coaching, conversations are completely confidential between the coach and coachee. If an organization is paying for the coaching services, they often receive periodic status updates (dates, milestones achieved), but nothing else is shared without the coachee’ s permission.

Does Leadership Coaching Have to Be in Person?

Face-to-face is ideal, given that so much or communication is non-verbal and it helps in building rapport initially. However, it’s becoming more common to coach over the phone (or through video calls) as an alternative and still effective option.

How Much Does Leadership Coaching Cost?

Coaching is a $2.5 billion per year industry worldwide, and, as the Harvard Business Review estimated, the median rate for an executive coach is $500 an hour. Most coaches will charge for a 6- or 12-month engagement, to have a lasting impact.

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