Kissinger, the great thinker, advisor and visionary understands a leader needs a different set of skills than an industry expert or knowledge worker. Just having the most authority or the most industry knowledge is not enough to be a good leader.

"The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been."

— Henry Kissinger


Leadership skills can be developed. In fact improving leadership in an organization is a well-leveraged investment. Every improvement in the quality of leadership can result in great increases in company productivity and profit.

An effective way to bring change is through leadership coaching. Today's coaching goes beyond the counseling or training model which attempts to correct or manipulate behavior. Coaching is not, as people mistake it, setting expectations and holding people accountable. While those are essential leadership activities, coaching goes beyond.

Leadership coaching impacts the thinking of people for their own good and therefore results in behavior changes. This includes everyone up, down and sideways through the organization. Like other professional skills, developing strong leaders and managers requires education, practice and feedback. Leadership coaching provides the framework to understand how to develop the vision to both work on the business and in the business.

There is no shortcut to excellence, so it's important to find the best coach and devote the time and attention needed to develop this essential leadership trait. Here are seven keys to look for when finding an effective leadership coach and program.

1. Trust, Credibility and Respect (TCR)

Unless your people can believe you know where you are taking them, unless they believe you can get them there and unless you believe they can do it you won't have any influence over them. Good coaching can help you communicate not only what you want but help you communicate effectively in a way that helps them want it too.

2. Courage

It takes courage to share a vision. In coaching you also have to have the courage to hear the truth. Sometimes the truth about yourself is difficult to hear -- like bad breath, quick temper, previous low performance or indecisive leadership. Your courage along with the courage of the coach to deal with real issues works to elevate your ability to lead well.

3. Authenticity

We all recognize when others are not being genuine with us. We all know someone who we can't connect with because they're not open and honest with us. A good coach will help a leader project the authentic, real, and honest in us that others will respond to, be open to, connect with and work with. You should expect a coach to give honest, open feedback so authenticity is an expected part of communications.

4. Support

Project success, organization goals and work focus fall quickly when people have to worry about blame, alibis and excuses. It's important to keep standards high and expect high performance but people work ten times better when they feel supported. A good coach will help you develop a way to provide an environment where good work is supported.

5. Problem Solving Skills

When you're working from a new perspective sometimes you fail to recognize old problems or don't feel comfortable with the tools to tackle new problems. A good coach is prepared to help you keep the course and not fall back to past behavior. The coach should be with you as you work on the business and as you work in the business. A trusted coach approaches real problems with you to understand and deal with problems as an evolved leader.

6. Data Driven

Everyone supports a decision based on good data. Quality data drives high quality decisions and a high degree of success. A good leadership coach will help you develop a thirst for the right data, the right amount of data and the right way to use it for leadership decisions. Your coach should also help you to deal with the times when decisions must be made with less than perfect data.

7. Zoom In and Zoom Out

How does this decision impact production? Can this program overcome the issue we're having in several regions? How can I get buy-in from sales on this price increase? How do I communicate short term pain for a long term gain? A leader's perspective must be agile enough to jump from the macro to micro view and back again without getting stuck. A good coach helps a leader keep an eye on detail while not losing sight of the global vision.

Developing good leaders makes a solid impact on the performance and profit of your organization, we see leadership coaching as a method beyond training to develop leaders. At Lean Partners we take leadership coaching seriously. For more information on Lean Partners and how we can help your company's leaders contact us here.