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Do you have to be a good coach to be a good leader?

This was the question posed by a client in a coaching call the other day. In good coaching form, I turned it around and asked him “What do you think?”

This was in light of a situation where a team member was underperforming.

The discussion we had landed here:

  • Good leaders are also good coaches. They have a foundation of coaching skills and know how to use those skills. But they don’t have to be expert-level coaches. (If they ARE expert-level coaches, that’s great, but it’s not a requirement.)
  • That being said, coaching is just ONE of many leadership skills that a good leader exhibits. A leader who is an incredible coach but can’t inspire or set expectations or have direct conversations, etc, etc, is not going to be successful based on their coaching skill alone. (Pssssst — this is why leadership is hard!)
  • Good leaders recognize that coaching isn’t the right approach in all situations, and they adjust accordingly. Situational leadership will always have its place.

The converse to this: are good coaches always good leaders? My answer is no. Aligned with the points above, you can be the most incredible coach in the world, but if you don’t have a broader roster of leadership skills you’ll struggle as a leader.

What do you think? What’s the level of coaching skill needed to be a good leader? Reach me here.

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