12 Leadership Qualities You Can Develop With Coaching - Plus Tools to Help!

Leadership Qualities

We are often asked for Leadership Tools. With a challenging economy for so many businesses, more transparency via social media and the internet (disgruntled customers and employees make their thoughts and experiences public!), and more and more reports that prove leadership qualities are good for the bottom line - organizations want leaders!

But what's interesting is that when I ask what leadership tools people are looking for, or what they want help with - I'm getting a big fat zero. Businesses want leaders, leaders want coaches, and coaches want tools to help. But no-one seems able to articulate what those tools should be or do!

And it got me thinking. What is leadership? What makes a good leader? Can leadership even be taught? Are leaders born or made? If leadership style is unique to a person, where does Coaching fit in? How can coaches help bring more leaders into the world?

Well, I thought a great place to start would be to look at leadership qualities - and then think about how we can help to develop those. We'd love to hear YOUR thoughts. What did we miss? Let us know by commenting below!

12 Leadership Qualities and How We Can Help Our Clients Be Better Leaders

The Best Leaders:

  1. ARE COURAGEOUS. They innovate and are are not afraid to be different, challenge the status quo, make unpopular decisions, take calculated risks. They fight for others and do what needs to be done.
    How you can help: Help your clients feel heard, be a sounding board that helps your clients fully explore the challenges they face. Reflect successes back to them. Support your client in taking calculated risks, making difficult decisions and generally doing the right thing.
  2. HAVE A VISION they can't help but share with others. They think strategically, but operate in the present.
    How you can help: Help your client identify their life vision or business vision - and really connect with it. How will they share that vision with others? Who needs to know? What goals will they set and actions will they take to get there? What needs doing now/next to move them closer to their vision?
  3. ARE AUTHENTIC. They have strong intuition or gut instincts - and follow them. They are congruent, walking their talk. They know and show who they truly are. They have a leadership style - all of their own. They are willing to be vulnerable when necessary.
    How you can help: Self-discovery! Help your client explore who they are, what matters to them. What are your client's values? How are your client's values different at work and in life? Are they congruent, ie. are they living their values? Are they showing who they really are to the world? What is their intuition, feelings, gut-instincts telling them?
  4. HAVE INTEGRITY. They are open and honest, but also understand the political game - and play it ethically. They deal with problems - and the elephant in the room. They are reliable and do what they say they will. They understand accountability and take responsibility for results - the good and bad. They do the right thing, not the easy thing.
    How you can help: Hold your clients accountable and challenge any blaming by your client. Help them review and strategise how they handle their failures and successes. Ask the difficult questions. Say what you see. Ask them who needs to be on their side for them to succeed? What needs to change?
  5. GET RESULTS. They are determined self-starters, using their initiative and not waiting to be asked or told. They FIND a way. In short, they deliver.
    How you can help: Support the client as they create goals and action plans. Track and review goals regularly, changing course as necessary. Hold them accountable. Help your clients manage their time more effectively, prioritise and work on the highest priorities first. Brainstorm and ask questions like, "Where could you go above and beyond?", "What haven't you thought of yet?", "What needs to happen for you to get the results you want?" and "If you were to look back having achieved your goal, how did you get there?"
  6. LISTEN AND OBSERVE - themselves and others. They know when to speak and when to listen, when to take action and when to be patient, when to lead and when to follow, when to hold on and when to let go. They keep the bigger picture in mind and choose their battles wisely. They have great judgement.
    How you can help: Ask questions that help your client consider many angles and think ahead. Help them make informed and reflective, not reactive, decisions. Ask them what they notice, what they heard, what is unseen but still present? Ask them to take the helicopter view. Role model level 3 listening for them.
  7. KNOW IT IS ALWAYS A TEAM EFFORT. They understand it's all about people and relationships. They delegate and know when to ask for help. They think win-win and give credit where credit is due. They say "Thank-you" and "Sorry". They understand the value of social time. They think win-win.
    How you can help: Help your client identify their strengths and weaknesses, what they love doing, and what they don't - and delegate accordingly. Ask questions like, "What help do you need?", "Who/what could you delegate?", "Who needs to be appreciated and how?", "What needs to be celebrated?" and "What needs to be done to make this situation right?" Help your clients look for win-win solutions. What can they do to team-build? Encourage them to network and manage upwards and sideways, as well as downwards.
  8. RESPECT EVERYONE - even if they don't agree with them. They are loyal and kind. They know when to be fierce(ly kind) and when to be gentle. They are forgiving - even if they don't forget.
    How you can help: Ask questions that explore different sides and perspectives of a situation or relationship. Challenge (carefully and with rapport) any lack of respect or labelling you observe. Be a role model yourself, setting clear boundaries with your client and walking your talk!
  9. ARE FLEXIBLE in life and in their beliefs. They understand that life is not black and white. They know that change is the only constant in life. They roll with the punches, knowing that life is not always pretty - but don't let it get them down.
    How you can help: Ask questions that help your clients move from polarised black and white thinking to "shades of grey". Challenge them on their limiting beliefs. With good rapport and after they feel heard, ask questions to help your client reframe difficult situations. Help them re-plan goals and actions when things change. Remind clients of past successes, their strengths and difficulties they overcame. Help them own and mourn their losses before moving on.
  10. COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE. They avoid assumptions and check for understanding. They love clarity. They keep everyone up-to-date and are transparent in their communications. They negotiate and handle conflicts pro-actively.
    How you can help: Support your client in planning their communications. Ask questions to clarify YOUR understanding (so they practice being clear). Observe their language - highlight judgements, limiting beliefs, assumptions, cognitive distortions. Ask clients, "Who needs to know?". Support your client in identifying training needs in areas like conflict management, mediation, negotiation, meeting management, public speaking etc.
  11. ARE PASSIONATE AND ENTHUSIASTIC. Their enthusiasm is infectious - and they usually have a good sense of humour.
    How you can help: Help your clients figure out what really matters to them and why. Identify values, a personal mission statement (whether work or life) that ties up with their vision. Help them work and live their values. Help them see the funny side of life and situations (only with good rapport). Ask questions like, "How does this fit with your mission and vision?", "What gets you fired up?", "What would it take for you to get really excited about this?" Help your clients to celebrate their successes.
  12. VALUE THEMSELVES. They don't wait to reach certain goals before they esteem themselves, they accept they are imperfect and value themselves now, even as they learn and grow. They are open to feedback and challenge everyone to be their best (including themselves). They are confident - and humble.
    How you can help: Help your client face the hard truths - and grow from them. What do others think of them? Consider a 360 Feedback process. Help them understand what life balance and self-care means for them, create time for self-reflection. Challenge their inner critic and remember that the more people learn to like, understand and forgive themselves, the more they can do this with others.

In fact coaches already have many of these qualities - which makes YOU a leader. As you re-read the 12 leadership qualities above, I wonder how many you exhibit in your life, your coaching practice? Which would you like to develop? Is coaching really about helping people develop personal leadership?

Finally, if you know of any great leadership tools, we would love to add them to our investigations.
Leadership qualities to add? Simply comment and let us know below!

If you liked this article about leadership qualities and tools, you may also like:

Image of A leader with team in background by Sergey Nivens via Shutterstock


  1. Lalitha Brahma

    Emma-Louise, I find this article not only informative, but very useful too. You have taken pains to study best leader's attributes. Not only have you expanded on each of those attributes and linked to some of your coaching products, but more importantly have helped coaches develop a leader.

    Thank you so much!

    • Emma-Louise

      Lalitha, thank-YOU so much! Your comments always inspire me to keep trying, to improve - knowing that someone is noticing and appreciating. I'm really glad you enjoyed the article. And if you have any additions/suggestions on the leadership front, just let us know! Warmly, Emma-Louise 🙂

  2. CoachRandawa

    Emma-Louise, your article is indeed an in-depth and well-researched contribution to leadership.Hats-off to you.


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