Coaching and leadership go hand in hand. Does this mean that all coaches need to be leaders, or that all leaders could be good coaches? When we think of leaders in our sports-crazed culture, we often have images of a gruff old-school coach yelling at his players from the sidelines.
Vince Lombardi comes to mind for us old guys. Or, we think of the Zen-like Phil Jackson on the Lakers’ sidelines, dispensing quiet words of wisdom to his million-dollar players.
However, these are not the coaches being considered here. Here, we are thinking of life coaches, executive coaches, wellness coaches, and other dedicated professionals working to ameliorate the lives of their clients.
The Skills of a Coach
Some of the most important skills of a good coach are knowledge, communication ability, finely tuned listening skills, flexibility, honesty, determination, judgment, and the capacity for continued learning. You will find most of these skills on any list of “coaching skills.” However, you don’t usually see “leadership.” Leadership skills are considered to be an essential trait for sports coaches, but for life coaches, wellness coaches, career coaches, and the like, leadership is not usually mentioned as one of the needed skills.
The Traits of a Leader
A political pollster once told Chris Matthews, the host of Hardball, that the three required traits of a political leader are motive, passion, and spontaneity. These traits could be applied to most any leader, whether it is in the political realm, on the sports field, or in the executive boardroom. Or, in a life coach’s office. Other important skills include the ability to encourage, an enthusiastic and optimistic personality, and the ability to truly listen.
The Skills of Coaching and Leadership
As you can see, the skills needed to be a good coach and a good leader have many overlapping characteristics. Coaching and leadership do go hand in hand. Though coaches come in all personality types – extroverts, introverts – they must be, in their own way, leaders. Conversely, leaders must be good coaches in order to get team members, employees, or group to work together and achieve a goal or complete a task. Coaches and leadership are a good match, even though coaches are a diversified and varied lot.
Though coaches don’t always fit our normal image of a leader – we often think of star players or coaches as leaders – most of them are natural leaders. Many of them may be reticent to lead groups of people, but are highly skilled at leading a client in a one-on-one setting. Coaching and leadership often go together well in the comfort and anonymity of the coach’s office.
Whether a coach is quiet and shy, or extroverted and talkative, he or she most likely possesses many of the characteristics of a leader. Coaching and leadership are a natural fit and a perfect match – it is difficult to be a good coach without leadership skills, and leaders often make the best coaches.
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