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  • Writer's pictureDanielle Terranova

How to Be a Better Coach and Develop Talent on Your Team

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My favorite definition of leaderships is “anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes, and has the courage to develop that potential.” 

While we train our leaders to find the potential in processes to achieve results, few organizations teach their leaders about what it takes to effectively develop the potential in people. If developing and nurturing people is such an important part of a leader’s job, shouldn’t we spend more time teaching our leaders how to be better coaches and develop talent on their teams?

Unlike traditional training or performance management techniques, coaching is inherently collaborative, focusing on empowering individuals to take ownership of their career development. Leaders who effectively coach their teams facilitate meaningful conversations that inspire self-awareness, growth and learning. Whether it's helping employees overcome challenges, capitalize on their strengths, or pursue ambitious goals, coaching serves as a catalyst for personal and professional transformation. At the end of the day, coaching skills are one of the most powerful tools a leader can master because they are the most effective mechanisms to support employees in unlocking their full potential and contributing positively to the organization's overall success.

In this article, we will delve into practical coaching techniques that leaders and managers can leverage to cultivate talent within their teams. From setting clear objectives to fostering a growth mindset and building trust-based relationships, these strategies are designed to empower individuals to thrive in their roles and contribute meaningfully to organizational success.


Leadership Strategies to Become a Better Coach      

1️⃣ Build Trust and Rapport

The first step toward becoming a better coach for your team is to invest time in building strong relationships with your employees based on trust, mutual respect, and open communication. Create space to actively listen to employees' concerns, challenges, and aspirations, demonstrating curiosity, empathy and understanding. Your goal is to create a safe and supportive environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, ideas, and feedback without fear of judgment or reprisal.


2️⃣ Foster a Growth Mindset

It’s difficult to effectively coach employees in an organizational culture that sees setbacks as failures. Instead, foster a growth mindset where undesirable results are seen as opportunities for learning and improvement. Emphasize the importance of embracing difficulties and obstacles as important moments of professional growth and seize the chance to overcome setbacks with an empowered and solutions-oriented approach. When disappointments become a reality, take charge of providing the resources and support necessary to develop skills, uncover resolutions and chart the path forward.  


3️⃣ Provide Constructive Feedback

Continuous and constructive feedback is what differentiates a mere performance manager from an effective coach. Coaches offer consistent, specific, timely, and actionable feedback that balances highlighting strengths with opportunities for improvement. They don’t sugarcoat bad news or wait for poor performance to reach a critical point before they intervene. They also don’t shy away from enthusiastically recognizing strong performance, even when it’s not above and beyond. Condition employees to hear consistent feedback about their performance and encourage them to do the same in return. Don’t miss a valuable opportunity to set a positive example of how to receive feedback when they do. 


4️⃣ Set Career Development Goals

Any effective coaching relationship exists to nurture talent and support the achievement of desired professional outcomes. It’s tough to be a great coach in the absence of clearly defined professional goals and objectives. Meet with your team regularly to identify what they hope to achieve and support them in charting a path from where they are to where they want to be. Encourage them to be specific about the strategies they deploy to achieve success and serve as an accountability partner to foster continuous growth and development. Regularly revisit and assess the game plan to ensure its relevance and achievability, and adapt the support offered along the way.   


5️⃣ Create an Inclusive Environment

Sometimes coaching involves talking through professional circumstances to create learning opportunities, and sometimes it involves leading by example. Employees often learn best by watching their leaders in action, yet too many leaders forget to think out loud so their teams can benefit from witnessing their thought processes. Include your team when analyzing issues, thinking through problems and making decisions. Create opportunities to address organizational challenges as a group so they can absorb the wisdom from your experience and cultivate an awareness of the internal processes that lead to positive outcomes. 


Although it may seem obvious leadership practices to cultivate strong partnerships, foster a growth mindset, provide feedback and set career development goals, these are often the efforts that fall to the wayside when the going gets tough. Unmanageable workloads and limited bandwidth conspire to relegate the coaching aspects of leadership to the back burner while the majority of a leader’s time and attention are consumed with execution. Yet, effective coaching is not just a means to an end; it is a mindset that represents a commitment to empowering individuals to reach their full potential and achieve collective success. It’s the stuff that makes leadership worthwhile and a true source of professional fulfillment when we support opportunities for others to succeed. Find opportunities to make coaching a hallmark of your leadership approach and realize what’s possible when you foster a culture of learning, innovation, and excellence on your team.   

Headshot of Danielle Terranova

Danielle Terranova is the voice behind Leadership Lessons with Danielle.

She has been an executive coach since 2015 and owner of Terranova Consulting, LLC since 2019.


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