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  • Writer's pictureGerry Mulvihill

Curious about Leadership Coaching?

Hi, I'm Gerry and I've recently joined Curious Jellyfish to lead the coaching practice, if you'd like to find out a little more about me click here or drop me a message I thought I'd kick off my blogs with a exploration of Leadership Coaching, what it really is, the benefits and how it differs from mentoring. Let's go!

What is Leadership Coaching??…isn’t it just listening and asking a few questions, and can’t anyone really do that?? Well yes..but…NO!!


Coaching is a partnership between the coach and client that moves the client from ‘where they are’ to ‘where they want to be’… so, why might a leader look for a coach?

  • They are looking for the next big leadership role and want to prepare.

  • There is a lot of change happening and they'd benefit from some space to make sense of it.

  • They have big plans and big goals and some help staying focused would be useful.

  • They want to make a bigger leadership impact.

  • They have challenges in their team and want to develop strategies for dealing with that.

  • They want to continue to learn and grow as a leader.  


To name just a few!

So how does coaching help ?

  • Provides clarity of purpose and direction.

  • Its focus is on opportunities, rather than interrogating the past.

  • Challenges limiting beliefs that may be holding you back.

  • Shifts thinking, raising self-awareness, and setting new intentions and goals.

  • Action focussed - seeking solutions over problems.

  • Empowers client ownership on moving forward.


Coaching and mentoring are often confused or used interchangeably, they are both forms of support for development, but there is significant difference in their focus and purpose.

So, what’s the difference? 




Typically, specific focus on improving performance, skills or challenges. Non advisory, with the belief that the answer lies with the client.

Broader focus on overall career development, providing guidance and advice based on their own experience.


No experience or knowledge required in the topic being coached, but are skilled in coaching techniques and approaches.

Experience and knowledge required in the topic being mentored, giving industry specific guidance.


Non-profession specific, can often be more formal and structured.

Usually related to the profession of the mentee, often less formal and develops over time.


Client sets their own goals

Goals usually set by the mentor 


Typically over a defined period for a particular focus.

Can be longer term, often spanning an entire career


Two essential things for effective coaching are the relationship between client and coach and the environment that’s created together.


The relationship that exists between client and coach can’t be underestimated, the right relationship will open up new possibilities and set the client up for success. You should always have an initial ‘discovery call’ with any potential coach to assess if you feel they’d be the right fit, and visa versa. A coaching relationship will be built on partnership, trust, equality, and confidentiality – you should feel comfortable sharing what’s coming up for you in a safe space.


We often talk about the environment we create through culture and that’s no different in coaching. So… what’s the ‘recipe’ for a great coaching environment?

  • Connection: creating a ‘safe’ space where a client is comfortable to explore their goals, challenges and aspirations.

  • Collaboration: to seek solutions and progress together – with the same level of equality in power and commitment.

  • Curiosity: to get under the skin of the problem, with a genuine lively curiosity for what  may/is holding them back.

  • Challenge: helping a client move on rather than stand still – with the focus on achieving progress.

  • Creation: of new thoughts, new solutions and new ways of behaving to move forward.

  • Change: creating real sustainable change of emotional state, with practical outcomes and changed ways of thinking and behaving.


So why does Leadership Coaching matter and what benefits does it bring?  Here’s how it plays a key role in personal and professional development…


  1. Enhanced Self-Reflection and Awareness: Coaching encourages individuals to reflect on their strengths, weaknesses, and behaviours. It fosters self-awareness, helping people understand their motivations, values, and aspirations. This is essential for effective leadership.

  2. Improved Decision-Making: Coaches help leaders and professionals make informed decisions. They explore different perspectives, challenge assumptions, and guide individuals toward well-thought-out choices.

  3. Skill Enhancement: Coaching helps enhance specific skills, whether it’s leadership, communication, time management, or decision-making. Coaches provide objective, targeted feedback and practical techniques for improvement.

  4. Goal Achievement: Coaches assist individuals in setting clear, achievable goals. They provide guidance, accountability, and strategies to overcome obstacles, ensuring progress toward those goals.

  5. Confidence Boost: Through coaching, individuals gain confidence in their abilities. Coaches celebrate successes, acknowledge growth, and empower clients to take bold steps.

  6. Navigating Change: In a constantly evolving world, coaching equips individuals to adapt to change. Whether it’s career transitions, organisational shifts, or personal life changes, coaching provides focus, support, and resilience.


In summary...


Coaching is a little more than simply ‘listening’ and ‘asking a few questions’… it is a catalyst for change, through the power of creating the conditions and building the relationship where leader self-awareness can be raised and where new forward-looking possibilities and creativity can thrive…setting intentions that turn into action.


As a coach, I fundamentally believe that the answer lies with the client – my role is to create the environment and ask the powerful questions to enable leaders to break through whatever may be holding them back, to discover the answer for themselves.

If you'd like an informal chat about how coaching could benefit you or your team, please do get in touch!


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