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Copy of Coaching for Leadership Development

Coaching for Leadership Development

Do you want to be a more effective leader and enjoy greater success in your career? 

I can help.  I believe that extraordinary leaders are developed, not born.  Granted, future leaders are born with traits and personalities that may predispose them to leadership, but their development over their life and career makes a dramatic difference.

Developing as a leader happens in many dimensions and requires skill in a number of competencies. Leadership skills can be developed through training, mentoring, and coaching.  

In working with leaders, I use two primary frameworks focused on building the individual’s strengths and leadership capacity:  Zenger & Folkman's Extraordinary Leader Model and Cavanagh's Four-Factor Model of Leadership.  I’ve selected these models because they are evidence-based and they identify specific coachable behaviors in developing leaders. 

Zenger and Folkman’s Extraordinary Leader Model

Dr. Jack Zenger and Dr. Joseph Folkman’s model of strengths-based leadership development is based on robust data from more than 850,000 360-degree assessments.  Their work resulted in 20 key insights that I use in my work.  

One of their key insights is that great leadership consists of several building blocks of capabilities, each of which complements the others.  These blocks of capabilities form what they call the “Leadership Tent.”  In this model, each block is critical to keeping the metaphorical tent up, with the long pole being character.

Each of these blocks break down into 16 individual differentiating capabilities:

1.    Displays High Integrity and Honesty
Personal Capability
2.    Technical/Professional Expertise
3.    Solves Problems and Analyzes Issues
4.    Innovates
5.    Practices Self-Development
Focus on Results
6.    Drives for Results
7.    Establishes Stretch Goals
8.    Takes Initiative

Interpersonal Skills
9.    Communicates Powerfully and Prolifically
10.    Inspires and Motivates Others to High Performance
11.    Builds Relationships
12.    Develops Others
13.    Collaboration and Teamwork
Leading Change 
14.    Develops Strategic Perspective
15.    Champions Change
16.    Connects the Group to the Outside World

Each of these capabilities can be developed through coaching, and can be included in a leader’s individual coaching plan, depending on his/her existing strengths and developmental needs.  

To download Zenger & Folkman’s white paper on their key insights, click here.  [PDF 1.5MB]

Reference:  Zenger, J., & Folkman, J. (2002). The Extraordinary Leader: McGraw-Hill Education.

Cavanagh’s Four Factor Model of Leadership

Michael Cavanagh  a psychologist, coach, and the deputy director of the Coaching Psychology Unit at the University of Sydney ⎯ researches and studies leadership in complex organizations, leveraging systems theory.  He created the Four Factor Model of leadership to help develop leaders in today’s complex environment.  It breaks down into four components:  Perspective Taking Capacity, Mindfulness, Positivity and Purpose.  

Perspective Taking Capacity

Perspective taking capacity refers to an individual’s “capacity to understand, critically consider and integrate multiple competing perspectives into a more comprehensive perspective that enables adaptive action.”  This includes the ability to develop an accurate perspective of a complex environment, both across system boundaries (team, organization, market, etc.) and across a broader time horizon.  A leader’s degree or level of perspective may also change from granular to very broad, depending on the issue at hand.


Mindfulness speaks to a leader’s awareness and attention, and his or her ability to manage both. The more aware a leader is in the present moment, the more s/he can be aware of what is happening internally and externally, which enables them to be both more aware and less reactive to their own emotions, and more engaged with what is happening in their external environment (e.g. paying attention to the content of what someone in a meeting is saying in a meeting).  Similarly, mindful attentiveness allows a leader to shift attention from inputs, thoughts, and triggers that are not productive and focus on that which is productive.


Research has demonstrated that positive emotions open our minds to new ideas and possibilities, build personal resources, and develop resilience (see Frederickson’s Broaden and Build Theory of Positive Emotion), while negative emotions narrow our focus and tie more directly to actions (like the fight/flight reflex).  Leaders who communicate positively and develop a positive culture create more innovative, competitive, learning, and open organizations. 


An organization’s shared purpose creates the foundation needed for collaborative problem-solving, interdependent cooperation, and appropriate action across the organization.  Leaders have a particularly important role in the development and articulation of this shared purpose.   Once a shared purpose has been agreed upon, it becomes the leader’s responsibility to reinforce the purpose and not stray from it during times of duress or crisis.  This ensures organizational alignment and effectiveness.

Reference:  Cavanagh, M. (2013). The Coaching Engagment in the 21st Century: New paradigms for complex times. In S. David, D. Clutterbuck, & D. Megginson (Eds.), Beyond Goals : Effective Strategies for Coaching and Mentoring. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing Ltd.  Download here [PDF .5MB]

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