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Our guide to Leadership Coaching

Our guide to Leadership Coaching

In this blog, we will explain how leadership coaching should be a continuous development process that enables leaders to unlock their own potential and their team’s potential. When it is effective, leadership coaching acts as the foundation for high-performing teams and world-class organisations.

To understand our unique science-based Team Power®  leadership coaching method, listen to this short extract from our Tougher Minds Podcast.

This story from the world of elite sport [in the above podcast extract] helps us understand more about executive leadership coaching. It highlights that if leaders do not continuously improve their leadership skills, then performance levels will drop and teams do not fulfil their potential.

People ask us what is leadership coaching and why is it beneficial? We respond by emphasising that it is essential to recognise that in our fast changing Volatile Uncertain Complex Ambiguous (V.U.C.A.) world, there is an urgent need for world-class leadership. This is because ineffective leadership is often damaging to people and highly problematic for team performance. The future success of every business and organisation depends on effective leadership to deliver focused, collective effort and truly high-performing teams. Leadership coaching is therefore highly beneficial.

Why executive leadership coaching?

We should also keep in mind that teams, not individuals, have been, and are, the source of many great industrial and societal advancements. When considering what is leadership coaching, we need to keep in mind that  ineffective leaders disrupt and obstruct team success. It is also important to recognise that, in terms of executive leadership coaching, leadership is a science and not an art. Specifically, it is a combination of neuroscience, behavioural science and psychology. We believe that applying leadership science effectively will be a genuine game changer and truly transformative for any business or organisation.

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What is executive leadership coaching? 

Tougher Minds executive leadership coaching is based on proven and robust scientific foundations. In all our programmes, we teach leaders about the brain and human behaviour. We empower leaders to practically apply these insights to improve their own and their teams’ performance.

But what is leadership coaching and how is it beneficial? In Tougher Minds programmes, our starting point is to show leaders the dominant role played by the limbic regions in our brain. We call this area our A.P.E. (Alive, Perceived, Energy) Brain. The A.P.E Brain drives our primal instincts which have helped humans to survive during their 300,000+ plus years on earth. These survival instincts can make it hard to be happy, successful and collectively at our best, in the rapidly changing V.UC.A. world.

As a result of the A.P.E. Brain’s influence, humans are driven to save energy i.e. for most our existence energy has been a scarce resource. This is reflected in what has been called ‘the brain’s number one operating rule’. That is, the easier it is to do something, or think about something, the more likely we will do it. Things that are really easy to think and do are the things we practice a lot and they become habits.

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Can you read the following sentence?

To make sense of words it deosn’t mttaer in what order the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny ipmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer are in the rghit pclae.

What just happened?

Science shows that at least 98% of our behaviour is unconscious or mindless. In other words at least 98% of what you think and do is a habit. For example, you do not read words consciously letter by letter. Once you have learned how, reading becomes a habit.

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More about our leadership coaching

So this profound understanding of our behaviour and our habits is central to our leadership coaching. it helps us answer the question – what is coaching leadership style? We use these insights and work with leaders to help them build more helpful habits for themselves. We help managers understand why leadership coaching is beneficial. We also show how they can support their people and teams to benefit from this. These are the foundations for improving leadership, performance, resilience and wellbeing.

Our unique Team Power®  leadership coaching includes our Team Power®  Leadership framework and our five-stage Team Power®  model. In the Team Power®  model, we use the metaphor of climbing a mountain to help people understand a pathway to effective leadership; and how to create a powerful, effective and well-functioning team. We work on this with people in business, education and elite sport.

leadership science for high-performing teams

In our award-winning training programmes, we highlight five stages that successful teams must go through to achieve their collective goals. We describe these stages in the following way.

The first stage is Me Power®  Conditioning. This involves everyone in an organisation or team deliberately choosing to work towards being at their best, in terms of their wellbeing and performance habits. 

Me Power Conditioning

The second stage is the Community Base Camp. This is about leaders and teams coming together to create big goals for themselves and their teams; deciding on a strategy to achieve these and agreeing  the team’s immediate priorities that will help them achieve success. 

Leadership - community base camp

The next stage is Group Climbing Support. This involves leaders working with their teams to develop and maintain the daily habits that make it easier to achieve collective goals and enhance progress. 

Leadership - Climbing SupportThen comes the Campfire Discussion stage. This is about leaders coaching and helping people, so they improve and deliver better performance and results, in their own roles and responsibilities.

Leadership - Campfire DiscussionsThe fifth and final stage of this element of our leadership coaching is the Group Climbing Review. This is where leaders and teams come together to collectively step-back, reflect and, if required, adjust their future priorities in order to help the team achieve its goals.

Leadership - Group Climbing ReviewOur leadership coaching helps people understand and implement these five key principles in a range of practical contexts. We work with people already in senior positions and those who aspire to become leaders.

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In order to deliver effective executive leadership coaching, we also guide them to understand the four key core components of Team Power®  Leadership. In our Tougher Minds programmes, these are the Role Model, the S.W.A.P. Coach, the Cultural Architect and the Action Communicator. Here is an explanation of each area.

The Role Model component is about an individual purposefully choosing to work towards being at their best and looking after their personal performance and well-being. If we think in terms of a scale, at one end we could refuse to try to be at our best. At the opposite end of the scale, we could purposefully choose to work towards being at our best. 

Role Model

The S.W.A.P. Coach is highly adept at building and developing people’s personal assets and attributes. A successful S.W.A.P. Coach supports individual members of the team to work towards being at their best more often. They create relationships within teams so people feel able to share their unhelpful habits. The S.W.A.P. coach then supports them to build new, helpful habits.

S.W.A.P. Coach

A Cultural Architect should create an environment that helps people to cultivate the helpful habits that support a team to achieve its goals. This means establishing purpose by creating a shared big goal and helping people in a team to understand what they are seeking to achieve and why. The Cultural Architect also ensures everyone feels able to share their vulnerabilities and recognise mistakes. They also empower others to actively commit to a successful future vision, as well as their own personal roles and responsibilities within a team.

Cultural Architect

The final component is the Action Communicator. This is about focusing on communicating with people so they are encouraged to fulfil their roles and responsibilities within the team. It is also about communicating in a way that has consistent high-impact and triggers others to take positive and helpful action. Among other things, successful Action Communicators build safety and share vulnerability with people via their verbal interactions. People take positive action because of what they say. They also  verbally reinforce the shared, future vision and the immediate team priorities.

Action Communicator

The four key core components of Transformational Leadership:

Role Model

S.W.A.P. Coach

Cultural Architect

Action Communicator

Why leadership coaching?

Being an outstanding leader is harder than ever beforeWe have explained that 98% of everything we do is a habit. That this applies to everyone, including leaders, teams (individual and collective behaviour) and organisations. These habits are often invisible and unhelpful for work and life success.

Our innate habitual, unhelpful behaviour is made even more problematic by our challenging, modern world of work and business. This is a world with constant changes. These include disruptive emerging technologies, new ways of working, demographic shifts and political instability. In such a challenging and complex context, innovation, adaptation, successful change management and effective leadership are more important than ever, but more difficult than ever.

Being an outstanding leader is virtually impossible to achieve without executive leadership coaching that is rooted in leadership science. If we do not understand our predisposition for unhelpful behaviour and develop skills to build more helpful habits, it becomes extremely challenging to thrive and succeed as individuals, let alone be effective leaders. 

So we need to support those in leadership positions to change their behaviour and develop new habits which are helpful to them in their roles. 

Become a Habit Mechanic for leadership coaching

Once leaders understand how to manage their own behaviour we coach them how to change other people’s behaviour. We refer to this as leaders becoming habit ‘mechanics’. They first build their own new helpful habits. Then they support others to modify their habits so that people and teams can feel well and be truly high-performing.

However, effective behaviour change is not easy or straightforward. In our Tougher Minds leadership coaching we use a specially created habit building programme to support leaders to achieve this. We call this our ‘Nine Action Factors’ model. It supercharges habit building and helps individuals and organisations achieve successful and sustainable change.  

The Nine Action Factors

There are more than 200 behavioural science rules that underpin this model, which are centred around nine core areas – the ‘Nine Action Factors’. We use these nine core areas to help clients apply the powerful principles. In brief practical terms the core nine area are as follows. 

  • Mindset (the belief that you can change and you want to)
  • External Triggers
  • Personal Knowledge and Skills – what you already know which is helpful
  • Community Knowledge and Skills – what people around know which is helpful
  • Habit Factor – how big or significant  is the desired change?
  • Your Personal Motivation 
  • Social Influence on you
  • Rewards and Penalties – for changing the habit in question
  • Brain State – is your brain well nourished and rested to make a change?

The ‘Nine Action Factors’ model is a key element of the cutting-edge leadership science used in Tougher Minds leadership coaching to optimally support leaders, so they can support their teams and create a culture where everyone fulfils their potential.

Why is leadership coaching beneficial?

Our executive leadership coaching – based on robust leadership science – enables leaders to effectively respond to the multitude of challenges they face in the modern world. After working on themselves to improve, those in senior positions can then influence and support their people and teams to improve. 

This includes areas such as personal wellbeing, mental resilience, motivation, productivity and performance under pressure. We call this personal growth, Me Power®.

Tougher Minds® Foundation course for Leaders
This is hugely important and beneficial for organisations because every member of a team has an influence on those around them. This is regardless of their position in a management structure. So in this way, everyone in a team should be considered a leader. Some can have a major influence and others less so and everyone in a team can also have a positive or negative influence. For the whole team or organisation to benefit, everyone needs to be supported to become a better leader and held accountable for this.

Leadership Coaching

The other benefit of our Tougher Minds leadership coaching is that those in leadership positions become equipped with the knowledge and ability to develop Team Power® within their organisations. This means they will have a set of scientific principles that can be practically applied. These principles – based on cutting-edge behavioral science – provide a clear framework for leaders to create powerful teams which deliver world-class performance.

Leaders can analyse themselves and become their best more often. They can use behavioural science to create high-performing teams and cultures.

How to coach leadership skills?

In our Tougher Minds programmes, we help leaders to build new habits by guiding them through our three-step coaching cycle. This is our style of coaching leadership and it works as follows:

Firstly, we support leaders to learn (more about) how their brain works. We use our proprietary Team Power® ® Leadership self-knowledge tools to analyse their current leadership habits, and identify the unhelpful thinking and behaviours that are stopping them and their teams thriving.

The next step is to use our award-winning insights to help them learn the knowledge and skills that allow  them to build your new resilience, performance and leadership habits so that they can empower their people and teams to succeed.

The third element is to support them in building new helpful leadership habits, using our proprietary insights and tools. Including our S.W.A.P.® Cycle, T.R.A.I.T.® Habit model, the Nine Action Factors Model and our Performance Planners.

one-to-one leadership coaching

We would simply say that many well-known people who are regarded as great leaders, in sport, business, politics and life, have readily admitted that they are not perfect and need to improve certain aspects of their leadership. You may well already have many strengths as a leader, but we believe you will also identify areas you can improve. To sum up leadership coaching, we believe the best leaders never stop learning and applying leadership science to improve and refine their practice.

In this Blog we have presented our answers to these key questions:

  • What is coaching leadership?
  • What is coaching leadership style?
  • What is executive leadership coaching ?
  • What is leadership coaching and how is it beneficial?
  • Why is leadership coaching required in the modern world of work?


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