What Makes Leadership Coaching Successful?

What does leadership coaching do?  What makes coaching effective? What approaches are most effective in coaching, for yourself or someone whom you believe would benefit from it?

These are questions that I continue to explore in my evolution as a leadership coach.

One way to identify these variables is to gather data from coaching clients and their constituents. As part of this ongoing effort, I sent out a survey in 2020 to two groups who have experienced my coaching practice first-hand: 1) leaders who had work with me in leadership development coaching; and 2) key stakeholders in the coaching process, including those who referred or recommended coaching, or decision-makers, peers and staff who had participated in a 360° process to provide feedback regarding the leaders’ effectiveness.

The survey results provided rich insights into what the leaders and key stakeholders I have worked with found most useful in coaching. They also gave important recommendations as to how I could continue to improve my coaching services and delivery. Their input helped inform my objective – to continue to identify what makes coaching most effective, and to clarify what coaching approaches are most useful.

The focus of coaching is often to assist the leader to build skill and competency in specific areas. Here are areas of improvement as seen by leaders and stakeholders in key leadership competencies, accompanied by specific comments when applicable:

  • Increased strategic thinking – 80% of the coaching clients and key stakeholders reported significant improvement in the leader’s application of strategic thinking to opportunities and challenges.
  • Increased confidence – A high percentage of the respondents noticed increased confidence, executive presence, and composure.“Thanks to coaching, the self-confidence of each of the emerging leaders soared. Each one became more decisive and sensitive to how they impacted the people around them. Critically, these leaders also became more willing to address poor leadership or behavior in others; their coaching showed them the ‘right path’ and they weren’t willing to accept anything less in the workplace.”
  • Leading Others – Over 90% of the clients reported improvement in leading and mentoring direct reports. “The coaching has made me think about my leadership role more intentionally and this has helped our faculty get through a very challenging time with the Covid19 epidemic. Carolyn helped me to see their trust in me as an asset that I can utilize to help when we are asking faculty to do difficult work for the good of the institution.”
  • Career Advancement – “Following the completion of coaching, the leader I referred to you was promoted to a newly-created position in a higher-ranking office, built her own team, took on a much larger portfolio of responsibilities, and was recognized by leadership for her accountability and innovativeness.”
  • Positive reputation – Key stakeholders noted a strong return-on-investment due to the positive impact on the leader’s reputation with customers, within the department and throughout the organization.

The results also identified the specific approaches used by the coach that they found effective:

  • Focus on strengths: “I felt seen by Carolyn. In her own quiet way, she helped me identify strengths I was underutilizing and encouraged me to think bigger and aim higher in my goals for my team and the faculty. After working with her, I now feel excited about exercising my leadership in areas that are important to me like diversity, inclusion, and equity.”
  • Provide support and suggestions: “As I was trying to find my footing in a new role with greater responsibility, she was both a sounding board and a support, validating my observations, encouraging my decision-making, and providing ideas and strategies for addressing certain problems.

The surveys were invaluable in identifying ways in which my coaching services could be improved, including:

  • Helping clients build their capacity to assume more responsibilities
  • Increasing their collaboration skills with peers and stakeholders
  • Helping leaders develop their mentorship abilities more fully
  • Requesting (Key stakeholders) to be kept in the loop as to how the leader was doing in their development process

I have integrated these into my coaching practice, in the effort to continually improve my coaching effectiveness.

What should you expect from coaching, and what should you look for in a coach? Use this data to help you consider areas of leadership in which you’d like to improve and consider the approaches and qualities in a coach that will be most useful to you!

Part II: “We’re In This Together: Mental Health In The Workplace”

Carolyn Maue and Alyson Lyon, The Maue Center

Alyson Lyon, my Maue Center colleague and President of Higher View Coaching, and I recently presented a webinar to FPRA Volusia/Flagler Chapter on “Leading Through Covid-19” as part of their wonderful and informative series. This is Part II of our exploration of the current state of mental health in the workplace and the important steps that organizations and teams can take  Part I can be found here:  https://mauecenter.com/blog/

Alyson: Carolyn, science has shown us that when people feel like they belong to something, like an organization or a team, they have a different experience, whether it’s related to the pandemic or other causes of stress. What role can leaders and their teams play in helping people feel a sense of belonging?

Carolyn:  Teams are the center of where things happen, the engine that drives work getting done and people collaborating to make that happen.  Leaders can inspire their teams to raise the bar and say, “Okay, we will do everything we can to promote health and wellness together as a team.”  There’s a tremendous amount of power in that. We know that when team members are at their best and functioning well, productivity is higher, there’s a greater economic contribution, and absenteeism decreases. Leaders can be deliberate about building team cohesion by acknowledging the team’s accomplishments, encouraging team members to recognize and use strengths in one another,  and problem-solving in focused ways that help people’s esteem go up. Making sure long and short-term goals are clear and understood and reinforcing them through effective team meetings, like team huddles and strategic discussions, are really important. Providing cross-training to team members is also energizing and can help them feel connected to larger goals while learning and increasing their skills.

One of the participants in our webinar conveyed the importance of being  supported by team members:

“it’s been easier for some people to keep going to the office and keep that sense of normalcy. But ever since the pandemic hit, I have worked totally at home with a toddler, so I don’t get a break.  I don’t get a coffee break, I don’t get a lunch break,  I don’t get just a few minutes to chat with a co-worker about something because I’m working,  I have a child, and I’m doing both at the same time. When my team members reach out to me and make me feel included it means so much.”

Alyson: It is important to intentionally build resilience, whether you are helping someone else do that or working on it yourself.  When we can bounce back and recover from something like this pandemic and move forward, we take strength with us to develop coping skills for use during future times of stress and crisis. Carolyn, what did you find in your research of best practices of teams during the pandemic?

Carolyn: We discovered that teams play a major role in keeping mental health and wellness at the forefront by: 1)  providing opportunities for ongoing discussions for ways to stay healthy, like exercise routine apps, healthy recipe exchanges, and suggestions for meditation practices, 2) integrating humor into the work-week, with times for informal gatherings that include stories and jokes, 3) encouraging acts of kindness, like giving compliments and sending thank you notes, 4) virtual socializing and opt-in meetings, where team members can spend time together informally over lunch, happy hour or other designated times during the week, and 5) celebrating special events, like birthdays or special holidays.  Celebration is so important!

Alyson: Carolyn, we know that organizations should build a resilient workplace culture to meet the evolving challenges we face in the future. Since there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, what strategies can organizations use to support people with mental health challenges and diminished well-being?

Carolyn: Organizations can proactively provide ongoing resilience programs and cultivate well-being through wellness strategies. The impact can be meaningful and significant when organizations design a multi-faceted approach addressing mental health, physical health, and support to sustain a steady state of readiness. Together, resilience and well-being provide a buffer that influences positive change through proactive practices, skills, and behaviors.

Wellness strategies promote a better work-life balance. They include mental, social, emotional, and physical support, assuring that employee health benefits provide mental health services and one-on-one individualized support to increase the likelihood of lasting change. Coaching, mentoring, and Employee Assistance Programs all provide support and development.    The Great Places to Work website (https://www.greatplacetowork.com/) has some great ideas, like Employee Resource Groups, which foster cooperation and shared interest.

Leaders can help build resilience in teams and individuals by conveying  that they value one another’s contributions and care about one another’s well-being.

Here’s a wonderful story from a webinar participant:

I had a co-worker when I was working at a theme park, and I thought she was really great. I think about the way she interacted with me personally. Often, she would ask me, “How are you? ” I was the manager on the team, so I would immediately say, “No, how are you.? “And she would stop and say, “I want to know how you really are. Are you okay? I really want to know how you are doing.” I want to emulate that moving forward.

Finally, leaders have the opportunity to role model self-care and resilience for others by adopting these practices for themselves. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a great time to pay attention to this issue and implement some new strategies! For more information: www.mauecenter.com.


Recognize, Release, and Renew to Promote Positive Change

One of the realities of life and work is that nothing stays the same. Just when we think we have things handled and moving ahead swimmingly, something comes in from left field, throwing us off-balance, back into uncertainty. Often this unexpected change causes sadness and grief in us and in those we lead. This article provides a good framework to assist us as we move through sadness and uncertainty to a new reality, along with some tips as to how to help your team. Hope it’s helpful!

Read the article here.

#alexcelgroup #leadership #coaching

Trust: Essential to Leadership

Trust is the foundational element of a successful leadership team. In essence, it is the ability to discuss and address issues that are getting in the way of success, and being vulnerable with one another about strengths, problems and weaknesses. It is built over time, through many interactions, and can be fragile during times of change and stress. Here is a very good article, quoting some of my favorite experts on the subject. Enjoy!

Click here to read the article.

Mentoring: An Investment in the Future

Think for a moment about a person who made a significant difference in your career. Perhaps it was a boss, another key leader in your organization, a revered family member, who provided time, advice, wisdom and/or introductions. A wise mentor of mine told me as I was getting a new program off the ground, “The more attention you get about this from the outside, the more respect you’ll get for it on the inside.” I have passed that wisdom on many times! Mentoring is shown to be one of the most effective and efficient ways in developing emerging talent in an organization and increasing retention of key staff. Here’s a quick reminder – enjoy!

Click here to read the article.

Want Your Office Back?

It is amazing how often I talk with executive leaders about their need for office organization and space to do work. Increasingly, I find this is a basic need that we address in terms of ability to concentrate, think strategically, and work and lead efficiently. Here is a thought-provoking article about how many CEOs, particularly in the tech industry, are changing their thinking (and organizing) on this topic. Enjoy!

CEOs Want Their Offices Back


Getting Along with Millenials at Work

“How to Work with Millenials” is all the rage these days. As you can see from this great article, good management of people of that demographic is a lot like good management of everybody else. We all want to feel valued, be recognized for our contributions, have enough flexibility that our lives are not out of control, and see how what we are doing now can contribute to our career goals. I suggest we all apply these principles below to managing Millenials, and incorporate them in our management of all our team members.


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Share Your Abundance of Talent

I have been thinking a lot lately about “abundance.” My life is so abundant – with love, with priviledge, with material goods, with health. And I am grateful. I am also thinking about abundance in my life and the responsibility that comes with that, particularly at this time of change in our country. And as a leadership coach, I am thinking of abundance as it applies to leadership, as I watch successful leaders transparently share their knowledge, experience and wisdom.

To quote Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn:

“Talent is always conscious of its own abundance, and does not object to sharing.“

Perhaps as leaders we can give some thought to how we can share our “abundance of talent” with others, growing capacity in our teams and staff members. What can we teach this week? What wisdom can we share? What problems can we solve together, merging our talents? I encourage you to ponder this and list some ways you can share your “abundance of talent.” Enjoy!