Why Leadership Coaching Is Essential to Grow as a Leader

Are leaders born or made? This is an important question for anyone leading or aspiring to lead a team, company or country.

Research suggests that leadership is about one-third innate talent and two-thirds made. So whether you were born with a natural disposition to lead or not, you can expect to have to work to cultivate the characteristics and skills necessary to effectively lead.

Leadership coaching can help you do that. And for that reason, it will be offered to participants as part of the 16-month Advanced Leadership Programme of the Centre for African Leaders in Agriculture (CALA).

What is leadership coaching?

At its core, leadership coaching is a results-partnership. It is a high-impact process where a leader partners with a coaching professional to help the leader generate important insights, gain clarity and focus, and make decisions to improve their results.  And, owing to the results it delivers, it is increasingly being recognized as a powerful tool that addresses both specific individual learning needs and strategic, organizational transformations.

What does leadership coaching entail?

Leadership coaches use a variety of methods to help leaders realize their leadership potential. The specifics vary according to the coaches’ particular coaching style but generally include:

  • Goal setting
  • Reflection on experience
  • Exploration of relevant tools and resources
  • Sharing of observations and feedback
  • Challenging of assumptions to broaden the aperture of potential options
  • Identifying clear actions

Unlike mentoring, where the mentor advises and provides wisdom and guidance based on her or his own experience, leadership coaching focuses on the leader’s objectives and experiences and uncovering their strengths and potential.

What are the benefits of leadership coaching?

There are a host of benefits you can expect from leadership coaching. Here are three of the most impactful:

  1. You’ll increase your self-awareness.

A coaching relationship can help a leader become more aware of strengths and blind spots they may not be aware of.  This self-awareness is critical for a leader. Self-awareness is one of the key elements of emotional intelligence (EI), a term widely popularized by Daniel Goleman that refers to a person’s ability to identify and manage their emotions and identify and influence others’ emotions.

In “How To Become a Better Leader,” a seminal article published in the MIT Sloan Management Review based on findings from more than 2,000 in-depth conversations with international executives, the authors examine the role of self-awareness. They state, “Executives need to know where their natural inclinations lie in order to boost them or compensate for them. Self-awareness is about identifying personal idiosyncrasies — the characteristics that executives take to be the norm but actually represent the exception.”  Leadership coaching facilitates this process of self-knowing.

  1. You’ll develop a growth mindset.

The term “growth mindset” comes from the ground-breaking work of Dr. Carol Dweck in Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.

Dweck breaks down two basic ways that most people approach life and leadership:

  • A fixed mindset is based on the belief that skills and abilities are fixed or predetermined. You are either good at something or you’re not and there’s not much you can do to change it.
  • A growth mindset is based on the belief that no matter what your starting point, you can improve.

A growth mindset, one might argue, is foundational to the most impactful leadership behaviors, found by the GLOBE project’s large-scale study of CEOs and Top Management Team members in 24 countries, to lead to success.  How could a leader, for example, give courage, confidence, or hope if they believe in inherent limitations of their team?  How can they inspire others to be motivated to work hard if they don’t believe in the benefit of doing so? Coaches encourage the leader to open their thought patterns and consider where they may have a fixed mindset that can be holding them and their team back from their true potential.

  1. You’ll enhance your performance and, in turn, the performance of those you lead.

Learning is essential to any role, even more so when performance is predicated on the ability to carry a team, company or country into the future. A leadership coach will challenge a leader to step back and reflect on experiences, often uncovering new insights into reactions and patterned behaviors. Leadership coaches guide exploration into where patterned behavior is helping or hindering achievement of goals and where a different behavior might better serve the leader. This active process is essential for the leader on an individual level. It is also essential for leaders to instill in others.

In “The Fifth Discipline – The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization”, Peter Senge asserts the need for leaders to have the courage to acknowledge and examine failures, ask the tough questions and go beyond perceived boundaries. The importance of this is poignantly demonstrated and contextualized in, A Model of Virtuous Leadership in Africa: Case Study of a Nigerian Firm, where Dr. Adeyinka Adewale investigates a model of virtuous leadership, underpinned by four primary virtues—Truthfulness, Courage, Humility and Humanity. Adewale concluded these virtuous leadership models are, “essential within the African leadership context to rise above existing status quo to build communities of practices that are not business as usual but seeking the ultimate end of facilitating the flourishing of immediate and wider communities alike.”

As Fred Swaniker, founder and CEO of the African Leadership Group said to world leaders at the World Economic Forum, “Good leaders don’t fall from the sky.” Indeed, good leaders are made. In such a critical role, wouldn’t you like to meet the challenge with a skilled partner committed to your growth as a leader?

Africa’s food security challenges require results-oriented leaders in government, the private sector and civil society who are responsive, adaptable, and able to lead collaboration, mobilize real change, and ensure delivery of country priorities.

To respond to these challenges, the Centre for African Leaders in Agriculture’s (CALA) Advanced Leadership Programme is offering a collaborative, hands-on, and tailored experience for senior and rising leaders in Africa’s agriculture sector. The 16-month leadership programme will include a unique learning approach to developing participants’ leadership, collaboration and management skills.

As a part of the program, participants will be offered leadership coaching to support them in their learning and growth as leaders of their countries’ agricultural transformation. CALA’s leadership coaching will draw upon successful models of executive and team coaching that harness the individual’s and the group’s strengths and experiences to catalyze learning, growth and results.


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The Centre for African Leaders in Agriculture (CALA) is made possible with the friendly support of:

German Cooperation
KFW