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How to turn leaders into coaches

According to a recent Gallup report, managers face a special set of obstacles in their day-to-day work, including unclear expectations, heavy workload, stress, limited focus on their strengths, as well as frustrating performance reviews. When managers face these ongoing challenges, which can often lead to burn out, talent and skill sets can become a burden instead of the asset they really are.

As organisations assess the full impact of the pandemic, identifying and nurturing leadership talent will be a critical aspect of future growth. Managers account for 70 percent of the variance in a team's engagement, and they need support. 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.

Coaching beyond the C-suite

Recent research suggests that 80 percent of employees say they lack the skills needed for their role. One of the reasons why corporate training initiatives fail is because they are too general and not specifically tailored to individual employee needs. In a fast-changing global economy affected by the crisis which requires a culture of learning and ongoing mentoring, the need for self-management has never been more important. And coaching has a key role to play. Because rather than teaching, coaching helps individuals to learn and unlock their potential to maximise their performance.

It might seem like talent management is a luxury that can wait until we come out on the other side of the pandemic, however the shift to remote work has truly escalated the need for employee learning and development. More employees are spending time alone, which can have a negative impact on performance and morale. That’s why leaders need the right coaching - so they can support remote teams in areas that can improve engagement and motivation, such as personal development and aligning individual and organisational goals. Coaching is also one of the key components of employee retention and satisfaction and enables organisations to achieve succession planning goals by creating a robust pipeline of leaders.

Many individuals are a fountain of information and experience that other team members can benefit and learn from. Employees who are encouraged to become coaches and mentors can incorporate learning into regular team meetings, building cohesion and inspiring teams to think creatively about solving organisational challenges as well as allowing to coach multiple employees in one setting.

Building a culture of resilience

Many employees are experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety driven by the pandemic. Organisations are faced with rapid change and shifting priorities and coaching is a proven way to speed up development in a business environment that requires resilience, emotional intelligence and collaboration. Building a culture of resilience is not about eliminating stressful situations but learning how to adapt to challenges and with the right support employees can feel empowered to weather any storm that comes their way.

Coaching can make people feel valued, boosting morale and motivation which leads to improved productivity, not only because others are inspired to succeed, but they are also receiving skill enhancement and greater insight into their strengths and opportunities. To make coaching part of the culture shift needs to start at the top, with executives making the initial commitment. It’s important to understand that while coaching is designed to help employees to improve, it doesn’t mean that they are underperforming.

Leaders who believe that each employee brings value and can benefit from development can positively impact the bottom line and organisational growth. 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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