The importance of coach skills for leadership roles

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 9 June 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

One of the most essential skills an effective leader can have is coaching skills. When you decide to become a better leader, it's necessary to invest in developing your coaching skills to be more effective in motivating and guiding your team members. Coaching skills are an integral part of any leadership role and can have a tremendous impact on the success of an organisation. In this article, we explore what coaching skills are, give examples of how you can use them in the workplace and identify how to highlight these attributes in CVs, cover letters and job interviews.

What is a coach?

The simplest definition of a coach is someone who helps and guides another person in achieving a specific objective. For example, when you help someone prepare to run a race, you're acting as their coach. A coach can also be anyone who provides guidance or advice. For example, a solicitor coaching their client through legal proceedings.

You can consider a coach to be similar to a mentor. They provide insight into what it takes to achieve one's goals. In business settings specifically, coaches usually work with individuals outside of management roles, although in some cases, senior managers may coach middle or junior management.

Related: Leadership Roles: Definition And Examples

Essential coach skills

Many job descriptions list coach skills as an essential component for candidates. This is also true in many leadership development programmes. Although some individuals may appear to have natural coaching abilities, anyone can learn to be a better coach. To effectively coach others, there are several skills you may benefit from. Here are a few of them:

Positivity

Remaining positive is one of the best ways to see results as a coach. Let your clients know that you're always open to hearing new ideas and encourage them to come forward with suggestions when they see an opportunity to make improvements. You can show people you work with that you appreciate them by letting them know when they've done something well or followed through on their commitments. Positive feedback makes people feel like someone is listening and increases motivation while fostering a cooperative environment where they feel comfortable speaking up about their initiatives.

Commitment

Commitment is a characteristic that's hard to define but easy to recognise. To excel in leadership roles, it's preferable that you can commit to your position. If you don't fully invest in what you do, it may be difficult to coach effectively. Being committed means focusing on your own development first. Investing time and effort into developing yourself as a leader means you understand how vital self-development is to long-term career growth. When people see your dedication in action, they may be more inclined to trust your commitment to their own development efforts.

Communication

No matter what level you're at in your career, effective communication is key to leading and managing. Just because someone is listening doesn't mean they understand what you have to say. When communicating, always keep it simple, articulate your thoughts well and deliver them with confidence. Additionally, by actively listening to others around you and valuing their input, you can show that you value their opinions and demonstrate a genuine interest in them as people.

Relationship building skills

As a coach, you can engage and inspire people to embrace new ideas and follow your advice. Good relationship building skills are crucial to leading individuals or a team. If people trust you, they may be more receptive to your suggestions. If you can show respect and create rapport easily through effective communication techniques, such as active listening, your team can see that they can trust you and may be much more likely to follow instructions.

Patience

When developing your coaching skills, having patience with both yourself and your clients is an important factor. Showing patience to other people allows them to learn independently and work through things without being rushed into something they are not ready for. It enables you to recognise specific skills in your client that may not appear if they aren't given the time.

Patience can also be beneficial when developing coaching skills as it gives you an opportunity to gain confidence and encourage positive thinking. Having patience with yourself also allows you to think of solutions or approaches before acting on them. If one method is not effective, it enables you to explore other possible solutions without feeling too rushed or pressured.

Empathy

A vital coaching skill is empathy. Empathy means you can understand and share in someone else's feelings or thoughts. For example, if a person tells you they're sad or that they don't feel appreciated at work, you can consider their circumstances, imagine how it would feel to be in their position and perhaps begin to see why they feel the way they do.

Being able to empathise with others is an integral part of being an effective coach, whether your role is mentoring a new employee, acting as a team leader or conducting life-coaching sessions. Being empathetic not only helps you connect with people on a personal level but also makes it easier for them to trust you enough to open up about what's really going on for them.

Honesty

Honesty is a key coaching skill that helps leaders create an environment of trust and responsibility among their team members. Be honest with yourself and those you coach and let them know what you expect of them and how they can succeed. Remind yourself that honesty, not image, creates sustainable long-term growth. Bending the truth to boost morale might seem like a good idea at first but only creates setbacks later on. You may be more effective in establishing credibility if everyone understands where they stand with regard to standards and expectations.

Highlighting coaching skills on CVs and cover letters

When you're applying for a job, it's important to highlight your strengths. When you have experienced coaching skills, highlight them on your CV and cover letters to show employers that you have what it takes to be a great leader. Here are some steps on how to incorporate coaching skills into CVs and cover letters:

Use active verbs

Make sure you use active verbs when describing your responsibilities so employers can see how well-developed these skills are in real life. For example, instead of saying 'conducted bi-monthly meetings with employees', describe how well you did by using an active verb like 'brought out the best performance in staff with weekly meetings where I focused on encouraging healthy competition among employees.' Choose phrases that focus on improving overall workplace culture and company performance.

Use keywords

When a job posting calls for a candidate with coaching skills, it's good to use the above keywords throughout your CV and cover letter. You can include examples of how you developed or improved these skills in different projects or internships and information about any training you've completed that helped improve your skills as a coach. Keywords are also important because applicant tracking systems automatically scan for keywords in CVs and cover letters to help recruiters quickly find suitable candidates.

Highlight skills

If you don't have any formal training in coaching, employers want to see that you have strong communication skills. Choose phrases that highlight your ability to understand others, build relationships and influence. For example, 'Used active listening skills to show compassion towards team members during difficult times.' You can also include examples of how you developed or improved relevant skills in different projects or internships.

Related: 10 good manager qualities that help teams succeed

Showcasing your coaching skills in interviews

In addition to making sure your CV is well made, it's important to be ready to present your coaching skills in interviews. To have a successful interview process, it's important to know how best to communicate your skills and experiences when speaking with a recruiter or hiring manager. Remember that interview time is relatively short, so showcase how effective and excellent a coach you are with each question.

Related: 8 management job titles and their primary duties

Developing your skills

You can use coaching skills in all aspects of life, and many of them can help you to succeed professionally. To develop leadership coaching skills, try to put yourself in your current supervisor's mindset and reflect on how you might approach different situations. Another way to develop these skills is to ask someone who works with you or above you in a position of power about an upcoming project. See if they can coach you through a project so that you can take notes on how they approach coaching and what does or doesn't work.

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