How do you choose between coaching and leadership development?

Your scenario

Imagine you’ve just been promoted up to a senior leadership position in a different part of your organisation.

You’ve come across some of your new leadership team at company events. One of them even bought you a drink!

But now it’s different because you’re the boss.

You’ve heard about them during talent reviews and you know there’s ability in the team. One or two of them might have fancied your position! A couple of the others have middling reputations.

Your new team is good but you think it can be better, possibly through coaching and leadership development. If you could get them to gel around a common agenda and have the high potential team members raise the bar for the others….

Meanwhile you’re swamped with demands from head office and some tasks take you longer first time around than they will in a few months.

Truth be told, this is the biggest team you’ve led (although at least the salary package reflects that!) and you have a few niggling self-doubts.

You’ve got budget set aside for learning and development, but how do you choose between coaching and leadership development?

How can leadership improve your team?

You’re new to this job and feel you want your whole team to pull together.

One of the features of strong leadership is to set that vision. It’s the job of you and your team to paint a picture of a brighter, more successful future. And to explain it in a way that inspires people to want to be part of it.

By the sounds of your scenario, massive change isn’t needed. But for some people the very arrival of a new boss threatens the way they work now. Good leadership helps the team grasp the scope of that change and makes them part of that future.

You could summarise this by saying that leaders explain why something needs to be done. You’ll be setting vision and purpose. Exciting people about the future.

This could be done through coaching and leadership development programmes.

Where is executive coaching used?

One of the first questions for you to consider is who in your team most needs support. The answer might be everyone in equal measure.

It could be one or two team members, either because they are off the pace – or because they are tomorrow’s hot talent and the ones you want to invest in.

Of course it might be you that needs help more than anyone else!

Executive coaching is typically used in 121 situations. So if you want to focus your energies on a small number of people this could be the best option.

A good coach will agree with the team member what the scope and objectives for their programme will be. Ideally you’ll be involved in setting these goals, but sometimes confidentiality overrides this.

Remember that coaching someone to improve what they are passionate about might deliver faster growth than following your agenda.

You should expect a good coach to ask plenty of open questions. But they should also hold you to account if you’re going off topic or developing a sense of denial.

They are likely to have deep business experience but don’t confuse what they’ll do for an individual with specific skills development.

**Read our post here on the difference between leaders and managers**

How can leadership development work for my whole team?

If you think your entire team will benefit from growing leadership skills then you’re more likely to choose a team programme.

A belt-and-braces approach might incorporate 121 coaching too. But let’s focus on team events.

Very often one of the inputs to leadership development for the senior team is some sort of employee feedback. This can give helpful insight into what gaps the broader team think are most obvious.

Another useful benchmark is to use some sort of personality profiling. We are certified in Emergenetics® but there are many others to choose from.

These tools are a great way of assessing the strengths of your team members. From there you can work out ways of interacting with each other and getting the best out of your relationships.

What do you want great leadership to do for your organisation?

It’s worth considering this as you work through this scenario.

Maybe you just need the team to pull together more strongly, in which case a personality profiling programme might be the perfect solution.

But perhaps you’ve identified specific objectives you want the team to develop. You could be looking at things like strategic thinking, communication and storytelling, diversity and inclusion and many others.

If you have specific needs then you might need follow-on sessions to help the team grow these competencies.

Do you need leadership or coaching?

You’ll have gathered from this post that we don’t see it as an either/or. Both coaching and leadership could be your perfect solution.

The key questions that will help you decide are:

  • What leadership areas do I want the team to improve?
  • Who specifically needs this help – or is it everyone?

If you’re still not sure then get in touch and let’s work it out together!