When coaching their team, leaders often fall into one or more of the following traps:

  1. Leader doing the ‘heavy-lifting’ in the conversation – instead: be curious and ask more questions, to be effective it must be a two-way discussion.

  2. Offering wisdom – instead: generate/inspire insight. When using a coach-like style, the leader’s job is to draw out the brilliance of the person being coached.

  3. Going into ‘reactive problem-solving’ mode – this might put out short-term issues but will not build long-term personal, team, or organisation capabilities.

  4. Going into the coaching conversation with assumptions – stepping up from data/observations, to adding meaning, making assumptions, jumping to conclusions, adopting beliefs, and taking actions that often damage relationships (also referred to as climbing the ‘ladder of inference’ too quickly) and doesn’t deal with the root issue.

  5. Spending most of the time on status or project updates – instead: try to balance a 50/50 ratio with coaching and development.

  6. Asking questions to test your theory – enter a coaching conversation with an open mind, curious to evaluate other options.

  7. Asking too many closed questions – instead: have a pool of questions that are explorative, reflective, challenging and forward-looking.

  8. Thinking about what to say next instead of listening – active listening is one of the key skills to master in being more coach-like.

  9. Not exploring and evaluating options and alternatives – search for new possibilities, focus on a situation to look at an issue from a different viewpoint. Explore every possible option available. Anything is a possibility.

  10. Not getting clarity on actions and commitments – tasks agreed upon must be turned into a solid action plan that can be reviewed. Either work on the action plan during the session or agree that the team member can develop a plan. Once agreed, the team member needs to keep track of results achieved and further actions to be taken.


When leaders encourage their team to do the work they come up with their own perspectives, ideas and solutions, and direct reports become more engaged and take ownership of their growth; this draws out the brilliance in the person or team being coached.

If you are interested in improving your coaching skills send me an email at [email protected] requesting a copy of the ‘Assessing Coaching Skills’ evaluation sheet. Karl Grech coaches mid to senior leaders to inspire, motivate & engage their team.

He supports people to gain confidence in their leadership role and helps them overcome challenging situations. Karl is an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) with the International Coaching Federation (ICF). He can be reached at [email protected] or visit www.karlgrech.com  to learn more.

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