What is leadership coaching?

People ask me all the time—what exactly is it that you do? I totally understand why—because coaching is such a burgeoning field, and it seems like every coach approaches their work differently.

Coaching is an exploratory discussion based process where your coach asks you intentional questions designed to help you create new modes of thought—i.e. new possible solutions, new understandings of yourself and your situation, and clarity on what it is you’re trying to accomplish. Coaching is a powerful tool, because it helps us to break out of the mental box we’ve placed ourselves in and find a new path toward our goals. Coaching conversations are forward focused (meaning we are talking about where you’re headed, not where you’ve been) and action oriented, so they should always help you move toward certainty and next steps.

Coaching is not therapy (although many therapists also do utilize coaching techniques), because a coach isn’t the authority, isn’t seeking to help you heal or diagnose any mental health condition, and isn’t seeking to address trauma and potentially emotionally triggering experiences. It’s vital that if you consider hiring a coach you seek out a professional who has completed rigorous training in these techniques and is certified by an international coaching body such as the International Coach Federation.

Why is coaching important for women in leadership?

For many years, the only ‘coach’ that most people had heard of was an executive coach—a performance focused individual who is often brought in to work with an executive in a major company for one of two common reasons: battling burnout/fatigue after years of fast paced growth, or addressing perceived performance failures/needed improvements.

Executive coaching is a great tool, especially when it’s used more expansively as a resource to support leaders holistically in setting healthy routines, creating work life balance, growing their skillset as managers and bosses and learning how to master higher levels of executive functioning (such as big picture strategy). But the popularity of executive coaching means that the majority of money invested by companies stays with those who are already in the C Suite or equivalent leadership roles—and overlooks the potential and power of rising employees.

Coaching is not just important for women in leadership roles, but vital.

The coaching process helps you learn self-management, allows you to expand your ways of thinking and showing up at work, and gives you tools and resources to better lead your people. It can also help you create a culture that is focused on sustainable growth, determine your personal and professional values, identify your leadership style and craft a vision for the success of your team. 

Coaching should be seen as a tool that helps you rise to the top of your industry—not as a gold medal you receive after reaching the top. Used correctly, coaching can help you actually close the gap between being a high potential employee and a leader much more quickly than going it alone.

Where does coaching fall short? 

I’ve been a professional coach now for more than five years, and I’ve seen coaching absolutely transform individuals’ careers and lives—but I don’t believe that one tool fits all, and I know that there are other tools that can help to support women who are looking to grow in their leadership role.

One of the most powerful groups of tools to pair with coaching that I’ve encountered is Neurolinguistic Programming. Neurolinguistic Programming is a field that focuses on optimizing the way your brain works to align it with your current set of personal and professional goals. While coaching is conversation based, Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) is typically done through facilitated thought exercises that help you make sure your internal self talk and beliefs are not in opposition to your stated goals.

Let me break it down even more simply for you. I want you to think about the Dewey decimal system you likely learned about in grade school. This system of organizing materials in a library relies on two filters to determine placement of a book: the general subject matter is the first filter, followed by the author’s name. Once you know the subject matter you can locate the area of the library your resource is in, and the author’s name helps you locate it within that set of shelves. It’s a pretty simple to understand system, and one we’re used to in the U.S.

Theoretically, the books in a library could be organized in dozens of different ways. We could organize them based on the author’s name only, based on the year of publication, or based on where they were printed. In fact, Wikipedia tells me that prior to using the Dewey Decimal System, most libraries organized materials based on when it had arrived in the library so that the newest material was easily available.

Subject matter and author’s last name were decided upon as accessible touchpoints when the Dewey Decimal System was developed—and now they’re the standard for how books are organized. 

Your brain organizes things too—but instead of books, your brain is organizing experiences, thoughts, beliefs, aspirations, memories, and faces. The crazy thing is that with so much input entering our brains every day, rarely do we consciously consider how that information is organized. We let the brain do its thing—and it’s an incredible processor. But what happens when the default sorting system your brain is using is no longer working for you? It’s time to reorganize so that your must-access items are more readily available. In other words, NLP exercises and techniques help us move and reorganize our thoughts in a more useful way.

NLP helps you reorganize the way your brain sorts and makes connections so that your goals, empowering beliefs, and useful habits are the default—rather than your fears, doubts and bad habits that keep you distracted.

There are tons of different exercises, but NLP for women in leadership is typically used to change limiting beliefs into more empowering ones, adopt and integrate new habits that will help you achieve next level success and make difficult projects feel easier.

NLP is best used in conjunction with coaching, in my opinion. If you imagine getting a manicure, coaching is the base coat that creates the most change. NLP exercises and techniques act as the top coat, really sealing in your transformation and protecting it for long lasting results.

Quick note: I never use NLP to coerce, force or change someone’s mind about anything. I only ever offer to use safe NLP techniques designed to reinforce the goals YOU have decided are important to you. 

Curious about how coaching and NLP can work together to create a positive change for you? Apply for a free call to discuss how I’ve combined these two techniques in our unique Powerhouse coaching experience.

My name is Laura Weldy, and I’m a women’s leadership coach. I help women in the workplace become confident leaders by tackling their mindset head on so they can think like a leader before they have the job title. I do this through professional coaching, virtual coaching, small group masterminds and powerful courses. If you’re looking to become more successful and fulfilled at work, let’s talk! I’d love to help you build an action plan for success. Click here to apply for a free coaching consultation with me directly!