10 Qualities to Look for in Your Leadership Coach

Woman working with a coach on leadership coaching skills and capabilities

Leadership coaches bring out the best in their coachees, but the best coaches have these leadership skills and capabilities.

Whether you’re on your own journey or looking to enhance your managerial team’s capabilities, hiring a leadership coach can bolster the foundational capabilities it takes to create dynamic leaders. However, coaches themselves need to be vetted to ensure that they have what it takes to effectively develop leaders. The following leadership coaching skills and capabilities are important to help you understand why this type of development is vital in today’s often disrupted business environment.

Commitment

Effective managers and leaders show up daily and go the extra mile, leading by example. They’re committed to making a business the best that it can be any way they can, and that commitment will rub off on their team as long as communicated effectively. Leadership coaches should operate the same way. They adhere to a behavioral science backed coaching philosophy, and have mechanisms in place where they can receive feedback and continuously develop their own leadership coaching skills and capabilities. A good leadership coach analyzes, adapts, and improves their development approach based on a leader’s changing needs. Leadership coaches who are incapable or unwilling to improve and develop aren’t the right choice. 

All of our coaches are required to complete 12 hours of professional development annually, but most of our coaches opt for even more. We select coaches who want to be in a community learning environment and understand that continual learning empowers them to excel in their work. We’re dedicated to keeping our coaches on the cutting edge of leadership coaching through our learning platform Sounding Board University. 

Empathy

A leadership coach must be able to build a rapport with the people they coach, just as a good leader needs to understand their direct reports’ perspectives. The importance of empathy can’t be overstated. Empathetic leaders are perceived more highly by their peers, which helps them make a greater impact within a business. An empathetic coach will have an easier time making lessons stick and making advice more memorable with personalized touches.

Effective communication

Effective communication is the other half of empathy, in that it allows a leadership coach to clearly and cohesively convey their meaning once they understand someone else’s point of view. Find a leadership coach who understands the 3 Cs of communication: clarity, conciseness, and consistency. If they can’t speak to those qualities, you risk miscommunications and misunderstandings.

Strategic thinking

You can gauge a leadership coach’s strategic thinking capabilities simply by how they pitch their program to you. How clearly have they defined their plans to reach the people they’re coaching? What tools will they use to overcome challenges when leaders are resistant to change? How do they tackle 1-on-1 coaching breakouts? If your leadership coach has good — not just long — answers to these questions, it’s an indicator that they understand strategic thinking, and can help managers develop the same skillset.

Goal-orientation

Achieving goals is the fundamental purpose of leadership coaching for business impact. An effective leadership coach will know how to set measurable, achievable goals using frameworks like the SMART goal system. Goal orientation is similar to strategic thinking but varies in some important ways. Think of it like a roadmap. Goal orientation determines your final destination, strategic thinking is the plan to get there as efficiently as possible. 

Adaptability

While effective goal-setting and well-thought strategies create a strong core for a leadership coaching program, situations are bound to arise that dictate on-the-fly changes to the way material is taught. Leadership coaches need to adapt to these challenges without diminishing their messaging. When vetting coaches, ask for examples of unexpected situations they’ve had to overcome, how they solved the issue, and how it impacted their coaching strategy. 

Confidentiality

Confidentially is perhaps one of the most undervalued leadership coaching skills and capabilities. Coaches have a duty to respect any information they obtain throughout the course of their coaching. It’s up to you to set boundaries with your coach regarding what is and is not acceptable to disclose, but their responsibility is to protect it. The International Coaching Federation (ICF) has outlined a breakdown of how private and confidential information should be treated, as well as the type of complaints that can arise among untrustworthy leadership coaches.

Conflict resolution

One of the core leadership coaching skills and capabilities is the ability to form productive relationships with others, even if those relationships are born from conflict. Things run hot sometimes, especially when charting the best course for leading others. When conflicts arise, your managers must know how to resolve them amicably.

A leadership coach should mediate difficult situations by conveying the value of the relationship between the people involved in a conflict. Our webinar, “The Value of Leadership Coaching Amid Turbulence and Disruption” breaks down how leadership coaches can help managers face challenges, disruption, and conflict gracefully in an uncertain world.

Time management

Coaching engagements may be six, nine, or 12 months. Coaches focus on helping leaders sharpen their existing capabilities through 1-on-1 coaching sessions or group coaching. Time in a leadership coaching program is limited, and thus must be used to its fullest. A leadership coach will prioritize outlining and adhering to a flexible schedule that keeps the program on track.

Proven track record

You have to separate strong, skilled coaches from people who are simply charismatic. You do that by looking at their track record. If they can show you tangible results from their previous work — or provide references — you’ll know that you’ve found someone with effective leadership coaching skills and capabilities.

Find a partner with the leadership coaching skills and capabilities your company needs

At Sounding Board, our leadership coaches have the experience and tools to develop managers into top-notch leaders. Our global network of leadership coaches uses a tried and true approach that maximizes results, helping your leaders connect with their teams, and fuel performance across an organization. Not only do our coaches possess the skills and capabilities we’ve mentioned here, they’re ready to share them to elevate the capabilities in your leaders at all levels. Book a demo today to see how.

Sounding Board coaches are SELECT:

S – Service-Oriented. Coaches are in service to the client organization and its leader. They view the organization’s success as their own. Our coaching excellence team partners with our coaches to help them understand the organizational context and culture of our customer organizations and what is needed to be most impactful in coaching its leader. 

Each coach has a designated coach support team member who is constantly in touch with the clients customer experience manager, ensuring coaches are always up to date on the latest client needs and have someone to connect with at a moments notice if there are questions throughout the engagement. 

E – Exemplify Excellence. We intentionally keep our coaching network as small as possible, choosing only to work with coaches who exemplify Sounding Board values and possess exceptional qualifications. We’ve worked to create a sense of belonging and community for our coaches resulting in a coach retention rate of 92%. This ensures the client organization receives seasoned coaching inline with the Sounding Board Way.

L – Lifelong Learners. Sounding Board coaches are required to complete 12 hours of professional development annually, but most of our coaches opt for even more. We select coaches who want to be in a community learning environment and understand that continual learning empowers them to excel in their work.

We’re dedicated to keeping our coaches on the cutting edge of leadership coaching through our learning platform Sounding Board University.

E – Engaged. Having the smallest number of coaches within our network as possible ensures that our coaches are fully engaged. 

C – Committed. Sounding Board and its coaches share a relationship of mutual respect and commitment. Along with minimum contract requirements, our coaches are offered equity options with Sounding Board — a first in the industry. 

T – Top-Rated. Sounding Board coaches consistently earn an NPS score of 90 or higher.

See Us in Action

See how Sounding Board is revolutionizing leadership development through its coaching platform.

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