TSLH #001: 4 Ways To Be A Leader AND A Coach

TSLH #001: 4 Ways To Be A Leader AND A Coach

Read time: 4 minutes


Welcome to the very first issue of The Saturday Leader Heroes newsletter.

Every Saturday morning, you’ll receive this newsletter with at least 1 actionable leadership and/or coaching tip.

Please keep sending me feedback and leadership topics you would like me to touch upon in this newsletter. This is YOUR newsletter!

Successful leaders have one thing in common: They act as a coach for their team.

Acting as a leader AND a coach for your team means that you demonstrate 4 behaviors consistently.


Behavior 1: Listen actively

Listening actively is much more than just listening with your ears. There are 3 levels of listening and you must practice being at level 2 and 3 to be in active listening mode and be in a position from which you can coach someone on your team.

Level 1 of listening is internal listening. This is listening focused on the self and your reactions to what the other person says. This is the level most people listen at. For instance, when someone talks to you, you’re thinking to yourself “This happened to me too” or “I don’t agree with what the person says” or “I need to ask this question next”.

At this level, you are considering your own agenda, hardly listening at all! Be aware not to find yourself listening too much at that level, as this will significantly derail your ability to coach people on your team.

My tip for you: Self-manage yourself in that level. When you catch yourself listening to someone at level 1, refocus and do your best to go to level 2.

Level 2 of listening is focused listening. This is listening focused on the other person, their ideas, thoughts, and feelings. This is real active listening. At this level, you may think “This is something important for this person” or “It feels this issue is deep for this person”.

At this level, you will understand a person’s emotions, perspectives, and reality, and this is the best level of listening to build empathy with them.

My tip to listen to at that level is to let go of any judgment and thought and focus on what the person is telling you.

Level 3 of listening is global listening. This is listening focused on all the things that are not said. Here, in addition to hearing with your ears, you hear with your eyes, with your mind. It’s “listening” at the body language, the atmosphere in a room.

You have certainly already experienced entering a room feeling that the atmosphere was tense. Or you’ve been back home and just by the way your spouse is greeting you, you intuitively know if they had a good or a bad day. This is global listening.

This level of listening is the most efficient one to coach someone. You can relate to something you see in the body language and ask a question like “I saw you raise your eyes when saying this. What is happening for you here?”


Behavior 2: Ask powerful questions

Powerful questions are questions that support the person you’re coaching into thinking, reflecting on their situation and coming up with their own solutions to their challenges.

It’s important to understand that coaching a person does NOT mean you will talk a lot to them and offer them solutions. On the contrary. To coach a person, you must listen to them actively at level 2 and 3, and ask questions that will trigger their reflection and action.

There are literally hundreds of questions that are powerful questions. Here are a few tips to consider to ask a powerful question:

  1. Ask questions that start with WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, HOW as they are the best ones to encourage the person to think. For instance “What do you need to make this work?” or “How do you feel about this situation?” or “Where else at work do you see this happening?” or “When you have achieved that, what is becoming possible for you?”
  2. Avoid questions starting with WHY as they can sound accusative. It does not mean you can never ask a WHY question, but do this sparsely. For instance, rather than asking “Why have you done it this way?”, ask “What made you choose that approach?”
  3. Avoid questions that are hiding your opinion or judgment of the challenge the other person is bringing. For instance, instead of asking “Have you thought about doing X and Y?”, ask instead “What alternatives have you already considered?”


Behavior 3: Encourage accountability and collaboration

You will lead a high-performing team when you ensure people on the team are accountable for their actions and they collaborate to have the team succeed.

One of the most efficient ways of achieving accountability and collaboration on the team is to combine the first 2 behaviors when you coach the people on your team: Listen to the people on your team and ask them questions.

For instance, you could ask questions like:

👉 “What step can you take now to achieve that goal?” => Accountability

👉 “Who could help you on this project so you make progress?” => Collaboration

👉 “How will you stay accountable for this?” => Accountability

👉 “What can you do to make him/her succeed?” => Collaboration

When you have a meeting with your team, this is also a great opportunity to coach the whole team and create accountability and collaboration. This is especially important as you start leading a team. You could ask questions like “How do you want to keep yourself accountable to each other?” or “What team rules do you want to agree on to encourage collaboration on the team?” or “How do you want to address cases when someone on the team is not accountable or does not collaborate?”


Behavior 4: Provide feedback and support

A leader AND coach is there to support the people on the team, their development and growth. Although there is always debate as to what feedback really does for someone, it cannot be stated enough that giving feedback in an efficient way can help a person understand a failure, a mistake. This in turn prompts learning from that person and ultimately makes them a more productive and engaged member of the team.

There exists multiple efficient models to give feedback. There are models that focus on feedforward instead: Rather than focusing on what was wrong with a past behavior or action, the focus is on what is expected in the future.

In the end, efficient feedback will have 3 components:

1️⃣ A description of the action, behavior, mistake that the leader noticed and wants to discuss with the person.

2️⃣ An explanation of the impact this action, behavior, mistake had on the team, other stakeholders, or the company.

3️⃣ A discussion with the person through active listening and powerful questions to coach the person on what is expected in the future and how the person will commit to taking action.

Giving feedback is one thing. Providing support to the person so they act on the feedback is another thing a leader AND coach does.

The easiest way to support someone is to ask one of these 2 questions:

👉 “What do you need from me to work on this/do this?”

👉 “How can I help you do this or that?”


These are the 4 behaviors I encourage you to adopt as you develop your authentic leadership if you want to be a leader AND a coach for your team.

You don’t need to do all of them at once. Take one behavior, practice it, ask for feedback to people on your team or from other peers about how you do. Adjust, and practice again. When you’re happy that you have a good grip on the behavior, go to the next one and repeat the process.

Have fun with this and let me know about your progress.

TL; DR (Too Long, Did not Read)

  1. Listen actively
  2. Ask powerful questions
  3. Encourage accountability and collaboration
  4. Provide feedback and support

Whenever you’re ready, there are 3 ways I can help you:

1️⃣ Work 1-1 with me to step up as the authentic leader you aspire to be.

2️⃣ Hire me to help you build a high-performing team.

3️⃣ Start with my affordable digital course on Mastering Difficult Conversations for Leaders.