Greatness begins with awareness.

How Does Leadership Coaching Work, Anyway?

how leadership coaching worksIn my 20+ years in this field, I have witnessed the transformative power that leadership coaching can have on individuals, teams, and whole companies many times over. I also know that sometimes, people and organizations are reluctant to engage in leadership coaching as they don’t quite know what to expect from the process or whether it’s the answer to their challenges. Let’s bring some clarity to the picture.

What Leadership Coaching Does:

At the core, the coaching builds greater self-awareness, which is then used to increase results, collaboration, and job fulfillment.

How This Impacts the Bottom Line:

The smartest thing a company can do is investing in its human capital. Increased self-awareness can address a lot of growth-crippling challenges in areas like team productivity, employee motivation, talent retention, hiring practices, and more. Quite simply, leadership coaching can make you money, save you money, and give you a competitive advantage.

Requisites To Leadership Coaching Success:

For the coaching to work, the coachee(s) must be open to:

  • dig deep to learn about themselves;
  • recognize and accept their strengths, challenges, and blind spots;
  • be humble about what they know and don’t know;
  • be willing to change and embrace new patterns of behavior.

What Makes the Perfect Coach:

It’s all about the best “fit” for you. Honesty and confidentiality are cornerstones of successful coaching, and the best leadership coach for you is the one that you feel you can talk to without any reservations.

Coaching Tools:

Often, a variety of assessment tools can be used as part of the process. While these assessments are not the most important part of the coaching, they provide valuable (and confidential) insights on the coachee’s strengths, weaknesses, modus operandi and how co-workers view them and their contribution. The tools offer a baseline to inform the coaching and build on. I also use them to understand what makes each person tick and how I can best relate to them.


Even when the coaching is company-sponsored, the coachee should be allowed to interview a few coaches. Remember, the better the match between coach and coachee, the better the results.

The Process:

  • Often the coach will ask the coachee to complete some questions before the first session. This helps set goals and expectations and shed some light on the coachee’s point of view.
  • On the first day, coach, coachee, and sponsor meet to kick off the engagement. The sponsor can be the boss, the business owner, or someone from HR or organizational development. The sponsor gives their perspective on the coachee’s leadership strengths, challenges, and what they see as a successful coaching outcome.
  • The sponsor, coach, and coachee then meet again at a mid-point and at the completion of the work for updates, new insights and to share a coaching development plan.
  • The coach’s presence often facilitates the most honest conversations between sponsor and coachee, and even the sponsors end up learning much about themselves through the process.
  • The coach does NOT meet with the sponsor without the coachee to maintain the confidentiality of the work.

Length of Coaching:

Engagements are usually at least six to twelve months in duration, meeting 1-2 times a month.  Anything less than six months is not recommended. A lot of leadership coaching revolves around behavioral change, and sustainable change takes time.

The coaching project is often quoted as a single price that includes all coaching sessions, assessments, and books for a defined period. The company is invoiced over the course of the engagement.


The process for this is much like the company-sponsored coaching, except the engagement begins with the client and coach, and there is no sponsor present. The client’s bosses and co-workers can, however, (if appropriate) be looped in as part of the assessments to provide feedback.

Length of Coaching:

The work can be quoted as an engagement for a defined period or on a monthly basis. Clients usually commit to coaching for a defined amount of time, and many continue for multiple years.

leadership coaching for teams


In this scenario, the coach works with both the team as a whole and each member.

The Process:

  • First, the coach conducts individual interviews with everyone on the team, including the leader, to get a pulse on how well the team works together, what challenges them, and how well the leader leads. The feedback report is then shared with the leader first and then with the full team.
  • The team meets with the coach for a defined number of sessions to create critical strategies to increase collaboration and communication and to learn to leverage their combined talents.
  • Different assessments and books may be used to support the team’s goals. Team members also work individually with the coach to debrief assessments or address issues in support of the team’s agenda. All sessions are confidential.
  • This type of teamwork is often done with two coaches.

Team coaching can be extremely effective at building incredibly strong bonds within the team. Leaders learn how to assign projects based on best fit, employees become aware of how to best work with each other, and everyone learns to anticipate potential collaboration challenges and come up with solutions instead of getting frustrated with each other.


Got more questions about leadership coaching? Want to discuss how coaching can help you or your company? Let’s talk!

Contact me today: 847.242.0351 or


  1. Thomas Peterson

    You made a good point when you mentioned that in order for executive coaching to be successful your coachees need to be able to be humble about things they do and don’t know. My brother has been trying to help improve his leadership skills in his professional life but might need a little help. Maybe I should recommend coaching to him and see if that can help him out.

    • Susan

      I would be happy to connect with your brother and see if I could be helpful to him. My email is or he can call my office at 847.242.0351. Thank you. Susan


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