September 26, 2018 Focus area: Digital Transformation

Does every great leader need a coach?

The art of coaching and why it is not consulting


This blog describes the benefits of having a coach when you’re a leader in corporate environments.

What I hear from most of the leaders whom I coach is that they experience a certain level of loneliness and ‘stickiness’ in the corporate environment they work in. 

Most of them describe the following realization: 

“The moment is there, you have become a manager. Something you have worked towards for the last years. You are now at a moment in your career that you can actually shape the organization you are part of; now is the time to show your previous managers what a great leader truly looks like. But it turns out: not so easy, right? Having to contribute to the bigger picture, setting a strategy, maintaining that strategy while all sorts of external factors force you to change constantly. And on top of it all, you’re now expected to inspire others around you." Managing people and thereby becoming a great leader is actually extremely difficult. 

Extra help at this point comes in handy. When a leader hires a consultant, the job of the consultant is to focus on a specific pressing problem that is given in that time and how to devise a strategy or propose a solution in order to solve this in the best way for the leader’s organization. In other words, consultants focus on the organization and the leader – read: manager – is one of the factors the consultant needs to consider. When a leader hires a coach, the job of the coach is to focus on the leader. This could be interpreted as the same type of assignment; after all, the leader is an important factor of the organization that has hired the consultant in the first place. However, the difference is far bigger than the leader initially sees.

In order to become a great leader, a coach helps the leader to develop his or her own style. As well as, be a sparring partner during crucial times of the organization to help define a strategy of their own position, advise on how to overcome reorganizations, board crises, and takeovers. 

It seems to me that middle and higher management in corporate organizations is in a very difficult situation these days. They are forced to be transparent regarding all their activities and tactics, inspiring their environment, all while maintaining direction. They are often, however, not able to effectively overcome all those external factors without a trusted professional – also known as a coach – who understands the business context. 

This all can be done under one condition, being able to open up to a coach. Only then, coaching can turn managers into great leaders.