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Leader vs Coaching Skills

wom-2-clippedLeader Skills/Traits Inventory

Research with many hundreds of European senior executives [1] showed the following skills/traits that were regarded as ideal in exceptional leaders:
1. Clear communicator – big-picture, the details, boundaries and desired behaviors
2. Straight-talker
3. Knowledgeable
4. Willing to be decisive when urgent action is needed
5. Crystallizer – can pin-point critical factors in complex situations
6. Can be charismatic (but not essential)
7. Has and communicates vision
8. Takes (measured) risks
9. Walks the talk.

Senior executives rate these 9 traits and in summary:

Communication skills are key to leaders and their messages have to be understood and to engage all manner of preferences.

Leaders take measured risks to achieve performance and they need to be able to drill into detail.

Some of these skills/traits might seem useful in coaches also?
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Coaching Skills Inventories

When we look at a coaching-skills inventory, there are similarities to those of a leadership traits inventory. Where is the over-lap, and what is missing?

Between 2009 & 2012, we used 25-30 coaching traits in our coach appraisal centres. Later, we benchmarked each of them from poor to mastery. The 30 are shown below:

1 Credible
2 Authentic
3 Confidential
4 Rapport building
5 Supportive
6 Interested
7 Exquisite listening
8 { Reflective language }
9 Facilitative behaviours
10 Questioning skills
11 Challenging skills
12 Powerful use of silence
13 Spotting and acting upon dysfunctional patterns of thinking and belief
14 Awareness and checking of congruence
15 { Facilitating psychological states }
16 Handling emotional expression
17 { Hooking and unhooking emotion }
18 Isolating root-cause and principal target
19 Widening coachee’s perception/context
20 Recognizing need for mentoring and asking permission (including use of story-telling and metaphor)
21 Focussing on target
22 Graceful flexibility
23 Facilitation of planning and processes
24 Harnessing both away-from and towards motivations
25 Invoking celebration
26 Reality checking
27 { Facilitating sensory journeys }
28 Reflecting back (feedback)
29 Receiving feedback
30 Consistent.

Few people would argue that all the coaching skills {except perhaps for those shown, thus, in parenthesis} are ideally found in all the best leaders?

So what if anything is missing? An obvious one might be due diligence, which is always in the domain of a leader (or their deputies). What other missing leader-skills/traits are there?


Leaders have actions while coaches facilitate change/actions in their coaches.

The questions remain:

• Where do I rank now
• Where do I wish to rank over what time period
• How do I manage that learning journey.

Further posts will add to the coaching/leader list from applied, academic research.

Angus McLeod, 2015

[1] McLeod, A. Self-Coaching Leadership – Simple Steps from Manager to Leader (John Wiley & Sons).

See the related video on Youtube (6 minutes).

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