Creating an effective coaching-led culture within the organisation is essential for the individuals to thrive and more often than not, getting them to share your passion and at the same time get personal fulfilment can be tricky.

Maturing the team and your approach from one that is currently having to be ‘directed’ (where you’re constantly having to tell them what to do and how) through to one where delegation automatically happens as they have more responsibility can be a big switch and is normally achieved in stages.

It’s as much of a reeducation of your leadership style as it is their working practice.

The four leadership styles from the Situational leadership model is a good place start and how the levels change over time when training is taken in great coaching and mentoring.

Hersey and Blanchard characterised leadership style in terms of the amount of task behavior and relationship behavior that the leader provides to their followers. They categorized all leadership styles into four behaviour types, which they named S1 to S4:

  • S1 – Directing – Individuals lack the specific skills required for the job in hand and they are willing to work at the task. They are novice but enthusiastic.
  • S2 – Coaching – Individuals are more able to do the task; however, they are demotivated for this job or task. Unwilling to do the task.
  • S3 – Supporting – Individuals are experienced and able to do the task but lack the confidence or the willingness to take on responsibility.
  • S4 – Delegating – Individuals are experienced at the task, and comfortable with their own ability to do it well. They are able and willing to not only do the task, but to take responsibility for the task.

Of these, no one style is considered optimal for all leaders to use all the time. Effective leaders need to be flexible, and must adapt themselves according to the situation.

How your leadership changes depending on the team/individuals behaviour type

(S1) Telling: Normally at this level of maturity, the individuals or team do not have much task knowledge. They are yet to learn the skills or have been given the ability they need to be proficient and so they need clear direction and guidance. As a result, the necessity is to be told how to do something and what to do. To this end, the style reflects much of an autocratic behaviour.

(S2) Selling: This is the next step up in the development cycle and although the leadership style is slightly less autocratic, it still requires a good degree of direction from the leader, whereby he/she now begins to explain ideas and the reasons for such. This approach helps the individual / team to start to develop their skills and reasoning. With this style, leaders begin to sell their message to influence and develop the team through coaching and mentoring.

(S3) Participating: At this level of development, the leader adjusts their style to reflect a more democratic stance and focuses further on relationships and less on task direction. He/ She allows the team(s) to create their goals but works with them to do this.

The main aim here is to develop the team further to take action and to think more autonomously, releasing the leash, if you like, and giving them greater scope for self-leadership.

(S4) Delegating: At this point in the cycle, the team are now competent. Their levels of development are high with the task at hand, and the leadership style reflects a hands-off approach. The manager now delegates goal creation and decision making to the team and as such, they competently get on with the task; setting goals, creating plans and executing them autonomously. The leader is normally kept abreast through regular updates.

What does this mean for your organisation?

The whole principle of great leadership is to be able to flex your style to suit the task and the individual’s needs. This is based on tasks, so a person can easily be a D1 (low skill level) on one task and a D4 (high skill) level on another. This person then should be managed differently, depending on their task competency.

Knowing what level of competency each individual is at, is the key to the effective use of this model. Once understood, the leader has a good blue print to be able to use to constantly flex their style to suit the situation and the individual’s / team’s growth.

The role of an effective manager is to keep developing your team through the cycle, so if an individual is at S4 (delegation level) for a specific task, try to add an additional level of responsibility and complexity, so they start back at S1, working with and leading them through levels 1-4 again.

This pattern is a continuous loop, and enacted correctly, the business leaders can develop empowered, energised and highly skilled teams.

What benefits does a coaching-led approach bring to an organisation?

There are studies that cite the effectiveness of coaching within organisations

  • 130% more likely to have strong business results
  • 33% more effective at engaging employees
  • 42% higher in employee productivity


HCI / ICF Study

HCI (Human Capital Institute) in conjunction with the ICF (International Coaching Federation) collaborated to produce a report in 2015 ‘Building a Coaching Culture for Increased Employee Engagement’, the report explores the relationship between strong organisational coaching cultures and increased employee engagement. The 20 question survey was administered towards 340 HR, talent and L&D professionals, diverse in their size and industry sector.

The full report you can get at

The 5 key headlines from the report are:

1. 60% of employees who worked in a strong coaching culture rated themselves as ‘highly engaged’, versus 48% of employees in other organisations.

2. A strong coaching culture correlated with higher financial performance. 63% of organisations with a strong coaching culture were above their industry peer group in terms of revenue growth, with other organisations at 45% above, an 18% difference.

3. Across the three coaching modalities (external coach, internal coach and manager/leader as coach) the manager/leader as coach had the largest positive impact on employee engagement:

External 13%, Internal 23%, Manager/Leader 56%.

4. Manager/leader coaches also had the most impact across three out of four employee segments:

Level –                 Entry level Mid-level   Senior-level High Potential

Internal                              3%              14%       61%        39%

External                             27%      40%       33%        39%

Mger/Leader                    69%      74%       48%        58%

5. The manager/leader modality is currently the most rapidly growing form of coaching and the organisations that are strong in coaching have a balance across all three different modalities.

In conclusion, the HCI reported that there is a strong business case for driving the coaching agenda, with the use of all coaching modalities increasing and the levels of engagement for high potentials dramatically affected by coaching. Interestingly out of the 340 organisations surveyed, 19% offered no coaching of any kind to any employee segment.

The ideal situation is to up-skill the team within the business to be able to take this coaching and mentoring approach.

What are the keys to engaging my staff using a coaching-led approach?

Our training enables and supports the coaching and mentoring approach that managers and leaders need to implement developmental maturity in their teams.

Simply being the one in charge does not necessarily make you a good coach (or mentor) and any approach has simple to implement so that it will systemically grow within the language and culture of the business. This therefore flows into all areas of the organisation and working practices, allowing individuals and teams to feel more empowered and autonomous.

Key One – Change the culture at every level

A coaching-led approach should happen at every level within the organisation. From the owners, directors and senior management team through to all levels within the business. Simply focusing on one level or group of staff is not a systemic approach and the changes will not ‘stick’. It’s also important to work from the top-down engaging the highest level first in the changes and then cascading the education downwards.

If you want this to be a part of the organisation, be a part of the organisation.

Your input and observations are key to this working – projects where we’ve been invited to come and ‘fix’ the team or enable ‘them’ to improve are never ones that we chose to take on. Whereas when the decisions makers are talking about the fact that ‘we’ want to improve and ‘all of us’ want to learn then we are much more excited by the prospect of the results that will be accomplished.

Key Two – What would you like to have happen?

What are your outcomes from creating a coaching-led culture? What would you like to see from the yourself and those around you in the team when things have changed?

One area that always improves is that people move from being ‘problem-focused’ into ‘solution-focused’ thinking. So rather than coming to their manager with problems that need addressing, they become so used to thinking through the issue in advance, so that they come with options for resolving the situation and seek guidance and advice based on your experience instead.

“Begin with the end in mind” Frank Covey

So set your intention, know your outcome and look at what you would like to achieve rather than the problems you want to avoid.

Key Three – Trust that people are resourceful

Let go of the need to sort everything and that all things will work the first time around, growth comes from getting things wrong as well as right and learning is a continual looping process. Have faith in the people that you have surrounded yourself with and take everything as an opportunity for feedback.

“There is no failure, only feedback” NLP Principle

Key Four – Learn to ask better questions

How often do you ask a question and then not really concentrate on the reply because you’re spending too much time with your own thoughts? Are you in rapport with the person you’re working with, are you listening to them? REALLY listening? Do you get under the surface of the words they’ve said to understand what’s going on in their world and what those words mean to them?

By asking brilliant questions you can make a huge difference to the quality of the communication within the team / organisation and by adapting your language to the individuals you have in the team you can really engage, inspire and lead them through projects and changes.

NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming – the study of the art of communication) and Clean Language (a way to ask questions that are as interpretation free as possible) are fantastic skills to have under your belt when it comes to asking better questions and are at the core of all the work we do.

Key Five – Empower everyone to utilise conversational coaching skills

We worked on a project at a community Hospital in Essex a few years ago, coaching the entire team of around 90 people. From the Hospital Directors through to the nurses, admin team, porters and clinical assistants.

They were all given the ability to utilise a coaching-led approach to their conversations, enabling better inter-team communication, less ambiguity and much more of a ‘yes we can’ approach then had previously been there.

This had a knock-on effect into patient and staff satisfaction and their resilience to the ever changing goalposts of the modern NHS.

Key Six – Allow time for people to recognise the impact and adjust to a new style of management

Long term changes that are truly systemic take time to bed into place and through repetition and practice you’ll seen see the impact that it has. You’ll notice it in the emails, team meetings, client/patient interactions and during the performance reviews. No matter what the size of the team, give everyone the chance to get and feel empowered with this new way of working.

We ran a 9 month project with the Hospital I mentioned previously and by the time the formal training sessions had come to an end, we knew that the changes were much more self-sustaining.

That another reason why we enable our NLP Practitioners and Master Practitioners to reattend the training for free, you get the best form of learning from repetition, feedback, repetition. Think of any skill you’ve learnt recently, were you good at it the first time around? Chances are, probably not and shifting your mindset and utilising new approaches in language also take time to embed into everyday use.

They do embed though and when they do for you, you’ll be another accelerator in that happening to those around you…

Next Steps – How can you find out more about bringing this culture into your organisation

If you are in an organisation, reading this and would love to take a much more empowered approach to the way the team or organisation works, just drop me a message.

If you want to learn more personally take a coaching-led approach then contact us as we have a number of resources and workshops we can help you with to provide further training for you and your team.

Perhaps you are in a management position or have to provide coaching to staff, clients or even patients, this is an ideal day of taking that first step to enable or enhance your current coaching skills.

Share, Leave a comment I’d love to know which approach you feel your business takes at the moment

Andy Coley – International NLP Trainer & Co-Founder of Beyond Training Solutions Ltd