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Coaching the next generation of leaders

Based on the meta-analytics of 100 million employee interviews by Gallup, the research discovered that 70 percent of the variance between highly engaged teams and persistently disengaged teams is the manager. The one significant thing the best managers do differently? They coach, instead of directing and administrating.

In the time of rapid change, organisations are becoming aware that managers can’t be expected to have all the answers and that command-and-control leadership is no longer viable. As a result, many are moving toward a coaching model focused on problem solving, encouraging employees’ development by asking questions and offering support and guidance, rather than giving orders.

What got us here won’t get us there

To quote Marshall Goldsmith, “what got us here won’t get us there”. As constant and disruptive change is now the norm, leaders can’t assume that what succeeded in the past is a guide to what will succeed in the future. To move forward, managers need to give support and guidance rather than instructions, so that employees can learn how to adapt to constantly changing environments in ways that drive energy, innovation, and commitment. Most of our learning occurs at work - we learn through those who manage us, and coaching helps individuals to learn and unlock their potential to maximise their performance. A few years ago, coaching might have been seen as remedial help for underperformance, but organisations now increasingly embrace the idea of internal leaders providing more coaching to their direct reports.

According to INSEAD, by 2025, analytical thinking, creativity and flexibility will be among the most sought-after skills. Important future-focused skills are concerned with the way humans think, learn, solve problems, and innovate – the core competencies of coaching. Leaders who coach their teams create greater engagement and help employees bring more of themselves to work. They view their key role as serving employees as they explore and grow, providing tangible and emotional support along the way. And when employees can bring their best selves to work, they feel more autonomous, and their work feels more meaningful, even when they’re working from their living room.

The power of peer coaching

In addition to one-to-one coaching, peer coaching offers significant benefits as it provides powerful learning interactions among leaders who aren’t on the same team, but are similar in experience and position. Peer coaching is about cultivating a network of allies that can provide mutual support in creating positive change to improve performance. Bringing people together who have no formal accountability or interactions with each other can create deep learnings and experiences that they wouldn’t be able to experience otherwise.

Peer to peer coaching can enhance valuable leadership skills, including listening, being vulnerable, getting comfortable with others’ perspectives and emotions, asking insightful questions, giving and getting direct feedback. Developing strong leadership skills, in hand with a peer-coaching mindset that strengthens the learning environment, results in collective scalability of the employees and the business. By creating a clearer picture of the skills, proficiencies and weaknesses of an individual, peer coaching uncovers areas for improvement, as well as motivates employees to incorporate new skills. Because when peers work together, it becomes easy to ask questions, get opinions and constructive feedback, and diligently work on developing leadership skills.

Focused coaching helps emerging leaders to identify and achieve professional goals that are both strategic and practical. At Acumen, we pride ourselves in offering development that gives managers practical tools to help solve real-life challenges. We offer an extensive menu of courses, workshops and coaching programmes, ranging from communication skills through to executive leadership development. In most cases, we design the interventions specifically for each client, but we also offer a wide range of off-the-shelf programmes for those who prefer this approach. For more information about our programmes please contact Simon at


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