Trends in leadership coaching: from unlocking potential to diagnostic tools

 | Leadership|Teams
Leadership coaching has not only grown in popularity, but the way it’s approached has also shifted, making it more powerful than ever!

Leadership and executive coaching have seen a big leap in popularity.

One of the big reasons for this is the increasingly complex and road-runner pace of the world we work (and live!) in. Leaders need to be able to navigate it successfully, and this means acting and thinking in new, enhanced ways.

This isn’t always possible on your own, which is where a coach comes in. A leadership coach can push you, challenge you, give you a fresh perspective and help you lift your game.

But the coaching industry and coaching practice aren’t what they once were. The next generation of leadership coaching has arrived!

Unlocking potential, not fixing problems

Leadership coaching used to be seen as a fix for underperformance. It was about addressing specific performance issues or challenges.

Now, professional coaching focuses more on growth and continuous development. It’s about helping leaders evolve and unlock their full potential by developing their strengths and encouraging self-awareness so they can excel in their roles.

It’s a more proactive approach that better prepares leaders for future challenges and opportunities. It helps senior leaders and mid-level leaders develop skills that are essential for tomorrow, including adaptability, resilience and strategic thinking.

Related: 10 signs of leadership potential (and how to nurture it)

One-on-one leadership coaching sessions

One of the biggest trends in leadership coaching is a shift towards regular one-on-one sessions with an experienced consultant.

This is because it allows for a 100% personalised approach tailored to the specific goals and needs of the individual leader, making it more targeted and effective in boosting leadership capability.

During one-on-one sessions, coaches can act as a sounding board, actively listening and asking leaders questions in a safe and confidential space where they can share thoughts, ideas and concerns.

Leaders can also troubleshoot challenges and obstacles with their coach, identifying root causes, exploring solutions and coming up with a plan of action.

Brain-based coaching

Brain-based coaching is another big trend in leadership coaching.

It’s an approach that integrates recent neuroscience findings on how the brain processes information, makes decisions, and forms habits, with coaching principles to enhance personal and professional development.

It’s about helping leaders understand their own brain functions, thought patterns, and behaviours to facilitate positive change and achieve their goals. It teaches you how to learn.

One of the models used in brain-based coaching to support people to drive their own thinking and solutions is the CREATE framework.

CREATE stands for:

  • Current Reality – Step back from your thinking and notice its nature. This is similar to the idea of ‘mindfulness’ and builds understanding and acceptance of the current situation before any solutions or goal setting. It involves your coach asking a series of questions.
  • Explore Alternatives – Come up with ideas and solutions with the help of your coach. This is a time to throw ideas around, bounce off one another and be creative and flexible.
  • Tap their Energy – Feed on this energy and motivation to lock in some concrete actions. Write the commitments down, put them in calendars and planners, and commit to deadlines and reporting back.

One thing we know about getting people to come up with solutions is that we always prefer our own ideas. Have you ever had someone make a suggestion to you or give you a solution to a problem and thought, “I don’t want to do that’?” That’s your brain telling you your ideas are best!

We also know that if we come up with the idea ourselves, we’re far more likely to follow through on that action because we’re already engaged and committed to the outcomes.

Related: Be an effective leader

Working together virtually online

Advancements in tech, such as video platforms like Zoom, Teams, and Google Meet (and a shift in mindset in the use of this tech brought about by COVID), have led to more people working virtually with an executive coach or leadership coach.

Some benefits of virtual leadership coaching include:

  • Increased flexibility – Leaders can more easily fit sessions into their busy schedules, and they can access coaches anywhere in the world.
  • Cost-effectiveness – There are no travel or accommodation expenses when you’re having your coaching sessions online.
  • Easier to open up – While you’re still face to face, being virtual can make people feel less exposed and better able to share thoughts and feelings.

However, not being physically in the same space can have its drawbacks, such as distractions on the screen (including emails popping up) and a more two-dimensional connection.

To overcome the first, we suggest blocking out your calendar, booking a quiet meeting room, putting yourself on do not disturb, and leaving your phone out of sight so you can’t see these pesky notifications!

Use of advanced leadership diagnostic tools

In the past, leadership coaching relied on qualitative methods, such as interviews, observation and feedback from colleagues and supervisors. Fast-forward to today, and it’s becoming all about sophisticated diagnostic tools and assessments.

Some examples of these tools and assessments include:

  • Emotional Intelligence (EI) assessments – EI assessments, like the Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQ-i 2.0), measure a leader’s ability to understand and manage their emotions and those of others.
  • Team Management Profile (TMP) – Helps individuals and teams build self-awareness of their work preferences in relation to how they relate to others, process information, make decisions, and organise people and themselves.
  • Opportunities/Obstacles Quotient Profile (QO2) – This tool determines the balance of effort people put into seeing the opportunities or obstacles at work and how they’re likely to approach risk.
  • 360-degree feedback survey – Through the linking leader profile (LLP), feedback is gathered from a variety of sources, including peers, direct reports and supervisors, to provide a comprehensive view of a leader’s performance and behaviour.
  • Global Leadership Wellbeing Survey (GLWS) – This is designed to capture the essence of a leader’s physical, social, emotional, intellectual and spiritual wellbeing.
  • Psychometric assessments – Including the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) or the Hogan Assessment, which help identify personality traits, strengths, and areas for development.

These tools help coaches and leaders gain a deeper understanding of their leadership style, behaviours, and impact on others. This enables them to quickly identify areas for development.

Related: The importance of leadership development in the workplace

New ways of coaching = better results

As you can see, leadership coaching is changing. It’s becoming more scientific, more professionalised and more personalised.

By investing in leadership coaching that leans into these trends, you can really kick your learning and the results you see up a notch.

Want to invest in leadership coaching that expands leadership skills and grows your business? Get in touch to learn more about our leadership coaching approach and the diagnostic tools we use.

Contact the Seed People Consulting team to discuss how we can support developing your diverse culture today!

Meet the author: Stacey Kelly

Stacey brings extensive industry experience and knowledge, as well as the energy, passion and inspiration of a great leader. She previously held senior people/cultures roles in private and public organisations, including Hunter TAFE and Insurance Australia Group (IAG).

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