Coaching Activities for Leadership Development

Coaching is the processes of encouraging the individual to improve both job skills and knowledge; assists others in problem solving and mastering new skills; and provides others with valuable information so that the organization learns (Hahne, Schultze, 1996; Bittel, Newstrom, 1996; Schon, 1983). For more information, see Performance Coaching.

Objective: Coach others to success by using the coaching model provided in the Leading section.

Instructions: This learning activity is divided into four modules:

Module 1: The Adult Learning Model

Malcolm Knowles based adult learning on four assumptions:

Pedagogy literally means “the art and science of educating children.” It is often used as a synonym for teaching. Pedagogy embodies teacher-focused education. Andragogy, on the other hand, is the art and science of helping students to learn. It is widely used by adult educators to describe the theory of adult learning. The term offers an alternative to pedagogy and asks that five issues be considered and addressed in formal learning:

Pedagogy and andragogy represent the ends of a spectrum that ranges from teacher-directed to learner-directed learning. Both approaches are appropriate with children and adults, depending on the situation.

Knowles developed his theory quite some time ago, as he was mostly interested in adult learning. Nowadays, pedagogy is starting to look more and more like andragogy as educators realize that is how children often learn best.

People also learn for the sake of learning: Hobbyists go to stamp conventions and take sailing classes, retirees take golf lessons, and lots of people join book clubs. None of them are job-related or problem-related, however, adults often seek out learning experiences to cope with life-changing events, such as marriage, divorce, a new job, a promotion, being fired, retirement, death of a loved, etc. It is these sorts of occurrences that often create a perceived need to learn.

Questions to discuss:

Module 2: The Learning Environment

Part 1 - Global and Linear

Global and linear are the two different methods in which we comprehend information. Global learning is getting the big picture first, before moving on to more specific ways of getting there. This can be pictured as a globe of the world, where you first see the oceans and landmasses, before moving on in to the different countries, states, cities, etc.

Linear learning, on the other hand, is getting all the details in order. Where as a global learning takes a giant leap, linear learning takes one step at a time. This can be thought of as rulers, where you move from one tic mark, to the next tic mark, and so on.

Part 2 - Preframing

Preframing is the attitudes and beliefs that learners bring into a learning environment. Preframes come from other learners, supervisors, past experience, their culture, or the company's culture.

Trainers often preframe the learners by telling a story or using some other means so that the learners will be more open-minded to the training they are about to receive.

Part 3 - Whole Brain Learning Theory

Our brain is divided into two hemispheres—the left brain and the right brain (this is a metaphor). The left side of a brain is the Dr. Spock of Star Trek—it provides the logical side. It is judgmental, linear, logical, systematic, and verbal. It provides:

Our right side is our Henry David Thoreau—the creative side). It is creative, intuitive, holistic, playful, and visual. It provides:

While our brain works as a whole, new information is often presented in a form that primarily appeals to one side. That is, it takes both sides of the brain to complete almost any task; however, information is often presented so that it appeals to mostly one side of the brain.

Rather, it should be orchestrated so that the left and right sides of the brain cooperate (synthesis of information). Combining the technical step-by-step side of the learning objective with interpersonal and experimental activities normally help the learners to master the task faster and retain their new skills longer.

Module 3: Coaching

Steps to Coaching:

  1. Give brief instructions (Normally less than 5 or 10 minutes)
  2. Break complicated tasks into small learning steps
  3. Demonstrate
  4. Have them practice
    • Coach them until they can do it on their own
    • Providing feedback
    • Provide Support

Blanchard and Hersey developed a Situational Leadership model that aids the leader in providing the correct level of training/coaching and motivation. They first developed one together, and later, Blanchard took off on his own with a slightly modified version. They are actually both correct; they were just looking at it from different viewpoints.

Good leaders provides the correct amount of training, coaching, and motivation depending upon the learning level of their students. The process follows a pattern similar to this: The Learning Cycle is based upon Hersey and Blanchard's Model, which, in turn, is based upon arousal.

We often use arousal as a motivator towards change or to learn. But, too much or too little will distract the learner. You want some mid-level of arousal to provide the right climate to learn. Each situation calls for a certain amount of arousal. Too little arousal has an inert affect on the learner. This can be compared to a coach pumping her players up for a game. There is not a whole lot to learn at this time, so she uses a lot of motivating techniques.

While on the other hand, too much has a hyper affect. For example, an algebra professor does not use the same amount of motivating techniques as the coach as it would be too distracting to the learners. The learning cycle basically follows this pattern:

  1. The Avid Beginner - The learners are enthusiastic to learn a new skill and may be somewhat apprehensive because they are about to enter a change process . They need clear instructions and lots of feedback because the task is new, and just a little bit of support to calm the stress of change (learning something new).

  2. The Disillusioned Beginner - Next, the level of technical support from the coach becomes somewhat lesser so that the learners may experiment with the learning style that works best. The learners have reached failure a few times in the process, which means emotional support must increase to help keep their confidence high. This period is one of the toughest time for the coach as a lot of technical support and emotional support has to be provided... technical support is needed so that the failures do not become learned (bad habits which are hard to break) and emotional support is required so that the learner does not give up. The emotional feedback needs to be specific, such as: “You did a excellent job with the ..., now you need to ...”; not: “You are doing just fine. Keep trying.”

  3. The Reluctant Learner - At this point, the learners have become capable in performing their new skill. The amount of guidance drops to just a few pointers so that they can experiment with the new skill. But, they are still not confident, thus the amount of emotional support must stay relative high to build confidence.

  4. The Expert - Smaller amounts of direction and support are now required. They begin to take ownership of their new tasks and responsibilities. They are allowed to perform and encouraged to take on new responsibilities and new assignments... that causes the learning cycle to repeat itself.

Module 4: Practical Exercise

Think of something that you are good at that you could easily teach in this class, such as fly tying, selling, speaking tips, a job related task, needle point, or sewing. You do not have to coach the whole subject; just a portion of it that someone could understand and perform in about thirty minutes.

Using the guide below, outline the tasks that you are going to coach:

Next Steps

Return to the Leading section

Return to the Leadership Training and Development Outline


Bittel, L. Newstrom, J. (1996). Supervisor Development. The ASTD Training and Development Handbook. Craig, R. (ed) New York: McGraw-Hill.

Hahne, C., Schultze, D., (1996). Sales and Marketing Training. The ASTD Training and Development Handbook. Craig, R. (ed). Pp. 266-293. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Schon, D. (1983) The Reflective Practitioner: How professionals think in action. London: Temple Smith.