Bad leadership can ruin an organization. Results of sustained bad leadership include poor financial results, lack of coordination and synergy among departments or teams, low morale and motivation, and high turnover.

The effects of bad leadership ripple outward throughout an organization.

Can executive coaching turn a thoroughly incompetent leader into a good one? Probably not. In fact, there was a time in the past when executive coaching was seen as a remedial process – one that businesses employed when they perceived that they made a poor leadership choice and wanted to try to salvage the situation. But that is no longer the case.

Today, executive and leadership coaching is not remedial, nor is it designed to teach someone in a powerful position how to lead. That said, there are several common mistakes made by leaders that coaching can help turn around. Leadership that is ineffective due to factors other than incompetence can be improved significantly by coaching. Here are some examples of how that happens.

Failure to Engage

Hands-off leadership can work in certain situations. A team that operates like the proverbial well-oiled machine can go for long periods without the direct intervention of a leader. But the leader who simply doesn’t take the responsibility of leading is quite another thing. These so-called absentee leaders don’t offer feedback, don’t participate in stressful decision-making, and may be silent killers of organizations.

Executive coaching can help the hands-off leader understand the difference between trusting the team and neglecting them. A hands-off leader may be completely well-meaning, but for the style to work, he or she must understand the situations that require direct engagement and not shrug off those responsibilities.


On the other hand, the micromanaging leader, though technically “engaged” with the team, can be every bit as ineffective as a hands-off leader willing to let the chips fall where they may. Leadership coaching can help the micromanaging leader understand the difference between leadership and control.

Micromanagement is highly effective at obliterating an employee’s desire to try hard.

When team members have appropriate amounts of autonomy at work, they’re likelier to innovate, to experiment and come up with creative solutions. But when a leader refuses to loosen their grip on the reins, trust cannot develop between the team and its leaders, and individuals eventually take a “why bother to try?” attitude. With leadership coaching, however, micromanagers can learn how to build that trust and allow team members the autonomy they need to excel.

Advancement at Any Cost

We like to think that leaders are, at heart, most concerned with advancing the mission of the team or organization they lead. But there are leaders who put their own advancement at the top of the priority list and allow themselves to be enamored of power and status. Can executive coaching help here?

It is definitely worth trying. A coach isn’t a therapist and does not tackle deep-seated personal issues. But coaches do offer the benefit of an objective viewpoint, and often they bring decades of experience to the table as well. Selfish behavior may work in the short term, but it can’t last indefinitely, because the business must succeed, and to do that, everyone must be on board with organizational roles. No business has time for a “leader” who doesn’t pull their weight, preferring to focus on personal success. Coaches are in a unique position to get this critical point across to egotistical clients.

Executive and leadership coaches have powerful tools at their disposal, but a magic wand they can wave to turn a bad leader into a good one is not part of the kit. However, executive coaching can identify problems, develop solutions, and help clients map out an actionable plan to get there. For the qualified leader who prioritizes organizational goals, executive coaching can help with ineffective practices like not engaging with followers or being too controlling.

Having worked with hundreds of clients in my career, I can tell you that the person who truly cannot be coached is rare. And if you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of leadership coaching, contact me today.

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