Coaching Leaders Secondary Clients - A Primary Consideration

Coaching Leaders: “Secondary” Clients – A “Primary” Consideration

The biggest difference in leadership coaching and other types, is that you have an individual as a client who aspires to be better in a specific area of their life: developing, guiding, training, and shaping others. This also happens to be an apt description of coaching—transforming a team or organization by inspiring and teaching the people in it. All coaching—from sports to leadership–requires an understanding of the “player” (in the case of leadership coaching, the player is the leader) as a “whole person.”

In the case of leadership coaching, there is a primary leader-client, and what could be called secondary clients, those who are directly managed (coached) by the leader. These other “clients” are an essential consideration in working with the leader.

Success in working with a leader-client will ultimately be measured by the consequential improvement in the individual and collective performance of those “others” in achieving the objectives of the organization, and their own development and growth.

The shaping and growth of the others in the leader’s community-of-interest, is dependent upon the development of the coaching and communication skills of the leader-client. Therefore, understanding the specific environment, existing, and aspirational culture, is fundamental to working with the leader on how to effectively communicate with their teams in the specific organization during the specific challenges and opportunities. You won’t have to guess if you are willing to ask questions about those elements and listen attentively to the client.

For these reasons, more than ever, the fundamentals of “who you will be” as a coach of leaders is a vital anchoring point for you and the client. In leadership coaching, the coach’s purpose, values, cultural beliefs, communication style, integrity, empathy, adaptability, and other attributes, should be expected to be mirrored in some form by the leader. Therefore they must exist in teachable form. All premier leadership coaches will have thoughtfully established their own principles so that any leader-client can see, hear, and feel a sense of psychological safety and trust. The client will know that they are in a place and with a person where something special can occur. At the beginning, they may not know it as a “co-creation” space, but that feeling of safety is how it can start.

What is your unique coaching offer today? Can you articulate, right now, a set of values, principles, and trusted approaches that will help you and your leader-client feel confident in your guidance? If your operating principles as a coach of leaders isn’t clear—first to you, and second, to your client—miscommunication can be the only result. Rather than alignment in the process, you may spend a lot of precious time explaining rather than listening with an eye to mutual understanding.

This is not an abstraction. This is “walking the talk” and can spur your client’s success (in their organization and their whole life) by creating or clarifying their own leadership principles, and how to communicate them. Steve Chandler and I devote a substantial part of our book, The Leader and The Coach, to the “how-to” of this creation.

~Will Keiper

Contact For interviews, blog content, podcast invitations, and other information, please contact

#leadership #leadershipcoaching #businesscoach #coachingleaders #leadershipdevelopment #executivecoaching #lifecoaching #mentoring

The Leader & The Coach by Steve Chandler & Will Keiper
Share This
Scroll to Top