“The leader commands by example, not by force”, wrote Sun Tzu 1. The coach’s leadership style is certainly the rarest of the command styles. Managers who adopt this style help their collaborators to understand their strengths and weaknesses by relating them to their professional and personal ambitions.
The coach leader encourages collaborators to set long-term development goals and to develop a plan that allows them to achieve those goals. The coach leader agrees with the collaborators, roles and responsibilities in the implementation of the individual development project, making himself available for evaluating the work as well as providing advice.
The coach leader knows how to delegate tasks by assigning demanding tasks to third parties at the cost of waiting for long results and tolerating errors from which he can draw long-term lessons.
The impact of this leadership style on the team climate and on the performance is decidedly positive. The collaborator who feels followed by his boss feels more free to experiment with innovative solutions. Giving up this style of command means giving up a very powerful tool especially in those situations where the context requires something extraordinary from your organization. However, it is a command style that bears fruit in the medium to long term.
The constant dialogue that is established between leader and collaborator with this style of leadership ensures that the collaborator is always aware of what is expected of him and how his work fits into the broader framework of the long-term strategy of the organization.
Thanks to this style, the sense of responsibility and transparency grows a lot, so that the collaborators deepen their energy and passion to present themselves as adequate for the trust and esteem received by their leader.
However, it is clear that this style of command works when the collaborators are receptive and ready to commit themselves fully, if they are already aware of their weaknesses and aspire to improve themselves. In short, the coach leadership style works with those resources that are motivated to let themselves be trained. On the other hand, it would be an unfruitful approach if the collaborators did not have the drive to improve or modify their conduct when the collaborators recognize a real or presumed inexperience of the leader.
1 Sun Tzu (544 a.C. – 496 a.C.) was a Chinese general and philosopher, to whom one of the most important military strategy treatises of all time, The Art of War, is attributed. He probably lived between the 6th and 5th centuries BC.