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How to create transformational leaders and reap the benefits of a coaching culture

Tiffany Gaskell describes the most powerful way of investing in learning and development to create transformational leaders and maximize productivity in a fast-moving world.

– 8 mins read –

Most people think of “coaching” as 1:1 executive coaching which focuses on helping key leaders to achieve high performance, but what if a coaching culture could enable everyone to perform at their peak?

The latest research shows over 80% of organizations use coaching and believe in its benefits.1 However, there is still a broad lack of understanding of what coaching is and how to use coaching to maximize results – another recent study found that only 30% of people surveyed actually understood what coaching was.2 Even those organizations already embarked on creating a coaching culture acknowledge the opportunities for development are huge, with growing awareness of the different types of coaching and most effective applications.3

Among the growing awareness and interest in coaching, organizations are missing a trick. It is well-known that the greatest influencers of an organization’s culture are its leaders: studies show that leadership behaviour impacts bottom-line performance by up to 30 per cent.4 External executive coaching is rightly seen as one of the most effective forms of leadership development,5 with many organizations choosing to invest in it, however helping leaders to develop a coaching leadership style is overlooked.

“It is a weight off my shoulders, my team is more self-sufficient.”

“People come up with solutions that are wildly different. And they have full ownership and are acting with commitment.”

“They figure out through the process what they want to do and then have the excitement and energy for next steps.”

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What is transformational leadership?

A “transformational leader” is a leader who can engage and inspire by using transformational soft skills that create high performance in themselves, their teams and their whole organization. Transformational leaders are the leaders of tomorrow and will enable their teams and whole organizations to rise to the complexity and multiple challenges of today’s business world.

If, instead of coaching an individual leader to improve their own performance, coaching skills are leveraged to create a transformational leadership style and taught to leaders, the organization will achieve a maximum return on their investment in coaching.

According to the recent survey by the Leadership Institute at the London Business School, today’s leaders find themselves fire-fighting and unable to spend time on strategy and planning. In such an environment, leaders need to be supported to break the pattern and, instead of solving problems for others, develop others to solve their own problems. Leaders who are able to do this will find themselves freed from fire-fighting to attend to those overarching strategic opportunities where they can make a difference.

“If leaders manage by the principles of coaching, they get the job done to a higher standard and develop their people simultaneously. It sounds too good to be true to have 250 days a year of getting the job done and 250 days a year of employee development per person, but that is precisely what a coaching leader does get.”

Sir John Whitmore, Co-Founder, Performance Consultants

Transformational leaders achieve a triple win

A leader leveraging coaching skills to create a high performance culture creates 250 development days per year for employees:

It is clear that transformational leaders achieve a triple win. The leader develops themself and gains the skills to develop their teams; groups of leaders from the same organization undergo the same leadership development, focused on finding their personal connection to leadership. This creates a shared language which they take with them into the workplace. They in turn develop others. This is what we mean by transformational leaders.

The return on investment is significant, with transformational leaders reporting an average 800% ROI. For one cohort of 17 leaders, this represented US$1,245,000 which came from improvements in bottom-line profitability and cost reductions. One participant reported that by delegating more and trusting in his team, the culture of the team had strengthened. This in turn impacted productivity which he estimated to have improved by at least 10% or US$350,000 per year.

Leaders with coaching skills create a high-performance culture

With organizations typically missing out on approximately 60% of the talent available to them,6 a coaching leadership style enables leaders and organizations to harness the full potential of their employees by inspiring and engaging them in a way that shifts the relationship and moves the culture to one of high performance. To help leaders and organizations reflect on the culture being created in their organization, we developed The Performance Curve model which we published in Coaching for Performance, Fifth Edition. The four stages of The Performance Curve are described by our CEO David Brown in his thoughts on Creating the Conditions for High Performance.

The Performance Curve | transformational leaders create interdependent cultures

By leveraging coaching skills to create a high-performance culture that is led by transformational leaders, the investment in coaching benefits everybody, not only the few, and organization most of all.

Never has this new leadership been more relevant with leaders and organizations challenged to evolve by society, including employees who want to find fulfilment and purpose in their work. Equally, customers demand that companies act with integrity. Meeting these extended demands requires leaders today to be able to inspire and engage, with results that are truly transformational.

The author Tiffany Gaskell is Performance Consultants’ Global Director of Coaching and Leadership.

1 Leadership Institute, London Business School (2017) Leadership Survey 2017 – Navigating Uncertainty: Global leadership challenges, London Business School.
2 The International Coach Federation (ICF) 2017 Global Consumer Awareness Study showed consumers struggle to differentiate between coaching, consulting, mentoring, counselling etc. 66% indicated they were aware of professional business and/or life coaching, however when presented with definitions for five personal and organizational support professions only 30% understood what coaching is, many getting it confused with mentoring.
3 Mann, Clive (2016) 6th Ridler Report: Strategic trends in the use of coaching, Ridler & Co.
4 Hay Group and others.
5 Leadership Institute, London Business School (2017) Leadership Survey 2017 – Navigating Uncertainty: Global leadership challenges, London Business School.
6 Research by Performance Consultants International.

meeting your needs

How can you develop transformational leadership in your organization?

Sir John and his colleagues at Performance Consultants were the first to take coaching into the workplace and coined the term “performance coaching” in the early 1980s. We continue to lead the field in performance improvement through coaching leadership training.

Select one of the options shown. Or get in touch and one of our world-class leadership development consultants will work with you to create a tailored transformation programme that meets your specific needs.

  • Attend a Coaching Course – experience the benefits of coaching first hand. See our Global Training Calendar to find the right course for you
  • Transformational Leader Pathway – learn how to be a leader–coach with a coaching leadership style that creates a culture of high performance for you, your team and entire organization
  • Performance Coach Certification – become a coach or take your coaching skills to the next level so that you can practise transformational leadership coaching
  • Individual Coaching (1:1) – take your leadership to the next level with a tailored, fast-track professional development coaching programme
  • Team Development – unlock the next level of potential in your team with team coaching