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Applied Coaching for Leaders – Changing Conversations – Changing Outcomes


Many coaching programmes designed for leaders – so-called ‘leader as coach’ programmes assume the same conditions for coaching as exists for external coaches – i.e. non-dual roles, dedicated time and space for coaching, conversations which are separate from the myriad of other organisational and collegial interactions which are the matrix within which change is constantly happening.

Whilst this more purist approach to coaching has some clear advantages, it is not easily translated into the ‘leader as coach’ context without significant modification. Experience shows that whilst traditional coach development programmes may be both engaging and transformative, they can lack impact in the long term because they are predicated on the need for formal 121 relationships to be set up across the organisation. Internal coaches frequently complain that they have not been allocated sufficient coachees with which to work, which often points to a lack of sufficient internal processes to support the management of internal coaching, ranging from needs identification, matching, formal sponsorship and three-way contracting, post-coaching evaluation, complaints procedures, ongoing coach training and supervision.

So whilst a more formal model of 121 coaching can be successfully integrated into organisations, there are clear challenges, not least the expectation on leaders to find time and space for an ongoing series of confidential 121 coaching meetings with staff.

However, what has been shown to be effective in ‘leader as coach’ programmes is rather to shift the focus onto the quality of everyday interactions, applying ‘coaching intelligence’ to support learning organisations.


The approach which this programme takes is therefore to focus on creating an impact on a number of levels in an ongoing, embedded way:

  • Reframing the identity of the leader as being as much about developing and growing their colleagues/teams as about delivering excellence through others,
  • Building the skill-set for generative listening and questioning to allow emergent new ideas to take shape, supporting creativity and innovation,
  • Using every-day conversations / agile coaching to help raise performance and ownership in colleagues;
  • Applying systems thinking to project/task design to enhance their potential as opportunities for learning and continuous improvement,
  • Creating the potential for learning and development to permeate everyday conversations,
  • And, when needed, providing safe spaces for colleagues to process their own issues both work and personal.

Programme Design

Below is an illustration of a fully blended programme which aims to support the development of an embedded learning approach within an organisation’s leadership and culture.

It is based on the EMCC (European Mentoring and Coaching Council) coaching competence framework and will support participants wishing to apply for EMCC’s EIA (European Individual Accreditation) process by ensuring that the core competence categories are integrated and iterated (pre-programme self-assessment, workshops, coaching logs and reflective journals).

Depending on cost and availability of participants it may be scaled down or tailored as needed – e.g. reduce number of workshop days from 4 to 3, have self-managed rather than facilitated action learning sets etc.


  • Identification of core impacts for the programme, and how these will be evaluated,
  • Consultation regarding how the programme best supports existing leadership frameworks and development in the educational context,
  • Self-assessment and 360 feedback for participants,
  • Pre-reading and task.

In programme

  • Experiential workshops to learn core coaching skills and approaches – linked to EMCC coaching competencies,
  • 2 x 121 coaching sessions for participants,
  • Creation of individual stakeholder maps, with a plan for applying coaching approaches to interactions/interventions,
  • Exploration of current and future work streams/projects and redesign (where relevant) to identify current and future opportunities for coaching,
  • Peer coaching practice, as well as applications at work,
  • Reflective journal and log of coaching interventions (121, dyadic, group, team etc) – linked to EMCC coaching competencies,
  • Action learning / group supervision (f2f / online as needed).

Post programme

  • Post-programme 360 to evaluate individual change,
  • Post-programme evaluation to review achievements against overarching impact goals for the programme,
  • Option to apply for EMCC (European Mentoring and Coaching Council) individual accreditation at Foundation or Practitioner level (depending on prior experience) – EMCC competence framework reinforced throughout via self-assessments, module content etc, and reflective learning journals can readily be translated into the EMCC assessment portfolio,
  • Option for EMCC EIA (European individual Accreditation) workshop and follow-on online group conferencing to support participants through the accreditation process.
Posted in Coaching & Mentoring