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Anna Schosser28.09.202312 min read

5 Core Principles of Leadership Coaching + Examples

5 Core Principles of Leadership Coaching + Examples

The leadership development industry is worth $14 billion. Therefore, it is definitely worth looking into how you can incorporate leadership coaching to enhance leadership skills, lead intelligent coaching conversations, and become an executive coach who develops experienced executives who deliver top performance with employees who enjoy working with. 


According to the International Coaching Federation (ICF), 86% of companies experienced a return on investment (ROI) on their coaching engagements, and 96% of those who worked with an executive coach stated that they would do it again.


What's more? 51% of organizations that have a strong coaching culture gain a higher revenue than their industry peers.

In this blog post, we will explore the five core principles of leadership coaching that will serve you as a guiding beacon to elevate leadership performance, build team excellence, and drive organizational success.


What's in this post:


What is Leadership coaching? 

Leadership coaching is a strategy for assessing and improving the leadership performance abilities of executives inside an organization. It is essentially a development program for companies to develop leaders to feel empowered in their roles and be prepared to overcome challenges, leverage their strengths, and achieve their goals.

This development takes place through leadership programs. Efficient leadership coaching initiatives produce measurable outcomes by focusing on bringing transformative change to all levels of leadership within your company.

Senior leaders executives to high-potentials can all benefit greatly from leadership development as it helps to improve individual and corporate performance.

How does leadership coaching work?

Leadership coaching works by providing one-on-one training and mentoring that is tailored to the individual needs of each leader. This can be accomplished through a variety of activities and exercises such as seminars, one-on-one conversations, and self-assessment tools that give the opportunity for self-reflection.

Coaching sessions enable leaders to create new ways of thinking about their work and responsibilities and enhance their performance in a more structured and consistent manner.


Woman sitting at desk writing in a book with laptop in front of her

Leadership coaching allows leaders to develop into strong-performing leaders who are equipped to manage teams effectively and build top-performing employees. 

How does leadership coaching improve performance? 

Having effective leadership coaching is a powerful tool for improving performance. It offers a personalized approach to the professional and personal development of leaders and allows them to enhance their overall quality of leadership style.

Firstly, due to its highly customized structure, leaders can be coached to learn to take ownership of the coaching process and its success. Secondly, because leadership coaching is personalized, it is always applicable, allowing leaders to address timely real-world issues during coaching sessions and implement them in the workplace for immediate impact.

Thirdly, unlike many other development strategies, leadership coaching results in long-term, continuous learning and behavior transformation. As a leader, the way you behave, respond, and approach situations holds a lot of weight on how issues can be resolved and how well your team operates. Therefore, the most impactful way to approach leadership coaching to ensure that leaders will generate better performance is to have coaching sessions based on behavioral science.

Furthermore, leadership coaching provides a safe environment for leaders to explore and manage emotions such as stress, anxiety, or frustration. Being able to recognize and reorganize these emotions from a fresh perspective is critical in developing strong leaders who are able to handle the demands of their work without jeopardizing their own or other's mental health or welfare while pursuing the desired outcomes.

Core principles of leadership coaching 

Regardless of your coaching style, let's have a look at the six core principles of leadership coaching that will help you develop a positive and productive coaching experience.

Create a safe, supportive, and challenging environment 

When developing a transformational coaching session, the first step to take as a leadership coach is to provide a good training environment.

We all need to have our ideas and ways of thinking to be challenged from time to time in order for change and improvement to take place. Therefore, providing a space that allows your coaches to be heard and have their feelings and beliefs understood is important in creating trust, openness, and honesty, and makes your coaches feel psychologically comfortable at work.

It is your responsibility to create an environment in which risk-taking is seen as a rewarding act rather than one that can put them at risk, so be sure to maintain an open and nonjudgmental attitude and let your coaches know that you are supportive of them as you assess their knowledge and abilities, and provide feedback.

Work together with your coachee 

Remember that the point of executive coaching is that you are coaching clients, and not yourself. Therefore, leadership coaches should let the coachee decide which goals they would like to set and work on, and how they will go about with their improvement points. Try to avoid imposing your personal priorities, goals, and opinions into the relationship, and work together with them to prioritize their performance goals.

However, when you notice that you need to push a point, you can step in and put on your managerial hat to give feedback. This will help to preserve the collaborative relationship leadership coaches aim to maintain when it comes to developing a positive and productive coaching leadership style.

Advocate for self-awareness

Advocating for self-awareness is one of the prerequisite coaching principles that will help to maximize performance in the long run. Why? because as a coach, encourage your coachee to recognize their own strengths and areas for improvement so that they can also identify ways on how they would like to develop their skills and knowledge.

You can start by demonstrating a sense of awareness in yourself first and can coach individual leaders to do the same. Encourage leaders to retrospectively examine their thoughts, behaviors, and emotions by using reflective questioning techniques to help them recognize the impact that their actions have on others.

Within this principle comes active listening which will help leaders gain more insight into their communication style. It is essentially a self-discovery process where you can empower leaders to improve their decision-making skills, adapt their leadership approach, and ultimately cultivate stronger work relationships.

Promote a growth mindset

Coaching is all about learning, and growing through your experiences and past mistakes As a coach, you can help your coachee to improve faster by helping them to reflect on past events. Analyze what went well, what didn't, and where they would like to improve most on to improve performance.

Let them know that mistakes are made to be fixed, and challenges and setbacks are opportunities for learning and development, thus creating an experiential learning experience by using past actions to fuel development.

Leaders become more adaptable, resilient, and open to change as a result of this principle, which translates into more successful leadership within the organization as they continually strive to improve their skills and handle all organizational needs effectively.

Lead by example

This last principle of leadership coaching can be a challenging one to embody. We all know how easy it can be to give advice and forget how difficult it may be to follow it through for yourself.

When it comes to leading by example, it means that you as the leadership coach demonstrate the same traits and behaviors that you want to develop in the leaders you are coaching. By doing so, you demonstrate what active listening is in a work setting, show empathy, be open-minded, and create a secure and nonjudgmental atmosphere in which leaders can confidently express their ideas and concerns.

You are now the role model for effective communication, constructive feedback, and support of having a development attitude. As a result, you motivate leaders to mirror these behaviors in their own leadership roles.

Furthermore, by consistently demonstrating professionalism, honesty, and dedication to your professional and personal development, you will create a fixed standard of what leadership excellence at your organization is like and inspire leaders to strive for a greater level of performance and leadership effectiveness.


Benefits of a leadership coaching program 

When it comes to improving their leadership skills and staying up to date with a continuously changing workplace, many executives turn to leadership coaching to boost and maintain their high-performance levels.

Although leadership coaching is extremely beneficial in the face of change, it is also beneficial for career development. Here are four powerful advantages of working with an executive coach that you may not be aware of:

  • Prevent leadership isolation: Feelings of loneliness and isolation are known to become more prevalent as you advance up the corporate ladder due to the lack of people who can understand or relate to the stress and responsibility that comes with such a responsibility. Therefore, while leaders seek out a coaching program to progress in a certain skill or solve a specific issue, leadership coaching can help executives alleviate those feelings by having the coaches connect their clients with one another. It can also lead to the development of valuable partnerships.

  • Enhanced performance: This benefit is a given when it comes to leadership coaching. Coaching provides leaders with personalized guidance, development, and feedback. Each leader gets the opportunity to work closely with their coaches to identify their strengths and learn from past mistakes to improve. This approach aligns with self-awareness, and improved decision-making which increases leadership effectiveness.

  • Improved communication: Leadership coaching helps leaders see that their communication may not be as clear and efficient as they think. Leadership coaching will identify the areas of communication that leaders need to improve on and practice them together for effective guidance and feedback. Coaches can also educate leaders on how they can connect properly with employees or stakeholders of diverse personality types, cultures, or ages by using examples from their own experiences. A coach that helps an individual enhance their communication skills will boost the credibility of each leader.

  • Empowerment: Every leader deserves to feel empowered and confident in their role. Empowered leaders do exceptional work. Therefore, a major benefit of leadership coaching is developing leaders who recognize their strengths, utilize them, and strive for personal and professional excellence by continuously improving on their skills and weaknesses.

A study by Fortune 1000 companies revealed that 48% of leaders who underwent leadership coaching exhibited an increase in work quality and performance.

This led to an increase in engagement and productivity and a work environment where leaders motivate and inspire their teams to become top performers. You may also be interested to read more about how organizations can motivate their employees through motivation training here.

Examples of leadership styles 

Below are four examples of the common leadership styles in the workplace. 

Leadership style  Explanation 
A transactional leadership style is characterized by inspiring and managing employees with a structured approach: clear expectations, well-defined roles and responsibilities, and a system that includes rewards to motivate employees to perform well.
Transactional leaders emphasize exchanges or "transactions" with their employees, in which achievements are rewarded and expectations not met are remedied through constructive feedback sessions and improvement plans.
This style of leadership is also known as the "authoritarian style" of leadership. It is primarily concerned with the outcomes and team efficiency. Autocratic leaders frequently make decisions by themselves or amongst a small, trusted group.
Autocratic leaders prefer their employees to do precisely what they are told and tend to not be flexible. They are also self-confident leaders who are self-motivated. They communicate well, and consistently, are trustworthy, and adhere to all organizational rules. Autocratic leaders also value highly organized work arrangements and support supervised work conditions.
The laissez-faire leadership style is the polar opposite of the autocratic leadership. It is focused entirely on delegating various tasks to team members while providing little to no support afterward. A laissez-faire leader also does not dedicate much time to personnel management and have generally more time for other projects and tasks.
A laissez-faire approach can be implemented well into a team of highly experienced employees who are well-trained and require little oversight. However, if an employee is unclear about their leader's goals or if some team members require motivation and boundaries to perform properly, the productivity level of that team may suffer.


A transformational leadership style entails inspiring and motivating employees to produce outstanding work and gain achievements by developing an aligned vision. This shared vision stimulates innovation and supports employee growth.
A transformational leader is dynamic, visionary, and motivated. They frequently challenge the status quo to facilitate innovation and development. They also build strong, emotional bonds with their team members, and establish a sense of purpose and devotion to a common objective.
They enable their teams to succeed, promote a culture of continuous improvement, and are known for bringing out the best in their employees.


What better way to get a strong head start in leadership coaching than by implementing AI-powered technology to help you develop transformative leaders? 

With Retorio's AI Coaching platform, you will be able to give your leaders the ammunition needed to rise to the challenges they face today and transform the organization for tomorrow with just a few simple steps. 

Retorio's training platform harnesses the power of AI simulations to ignite self-awareness in senior leaders and cultivate skills that will boost personal and professional growth. Individuals get to experience immersive video role-play training that is enjoyable and productive, receive data-driven, personalized feedback on their behavior, and allow them to practice in a psychologically safe space at any given time. 

Dashboard of Retorio's behavioral intelligence leadership training platform

Retorio's AI Coaching platform provides your leaders with what they need to become successful in their roles and develop engaging teams. 


Unleash your leaders' true potential and unlock valuable hidden insights now! 

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There are 9 coaching skills that are essential for leaders: inclusivity, effective communication, emotional intelligence, active listening, the ability to give and receive feedback, empathy, goal-oriented, a growth mindset, and psychological safety and trust.

A good leader should be honest, self-aware, courageous, respectful, empathetic, and motivating.

They should know how to connect with their employees on a deeper level to create a harmonious work atmosphere and build trust, and a good leader should learn to be agile and flex in their influence while being able to successfully communicate and delegate teams.




Anna Schosser

I create engaging and informative content about the importance of artificial intelligence and video-based AI technology for recruitment. I discuss cutting-edge AI developments and new technology with storytelling skills.