An Executive Coach Can Help Develop These Five Leadership Skills

Phil Holberton

Phil Holberton

Dedicated to helping you achieve your maximum potential

Developing Leadership Skills - Adaptive Thinking
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Many executives in today’s world think that working with an executive coach to develop their leadership skills is a waste of time or money. However, did you know that top executives in the world like Alan Mullaly, former CEO of Ford, and the Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, both encourage coaching at all levels within their organizations?

We frequently think that executive coaches are only used to teach us things, leading us to believe that hiring a coach is equivalent too admitting we’re not as smart or as great a leader as others may think.

Although, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Developing Leadership Skills

How Does An Executive Coach Develop Leadership Skills?

Executive coaches are used to develop and enhance the skills we already have and to position them in ways in which we can better utilize them, while simultaneously assisting us in building out our weaknesses.

Working with a coach doesn’t mean you’re not good enough. I highly doubt Satya Nadella  isn’t “good enough” to be the CEO of Microsoft (I mean, just look at what they’ve achieved recently). Working with a coach allows you to focus on your strengths and the skills you need to become an even more effective leader.

As we’ve all seen, the smartest people are not always the best leaders and in order to become a strong and effective leader you need experience and, let’s face it, assistance. You may have been told you’re a “natural leader” at some point in your life or career, and that’s a great start! Perhaps you are. But we can always seek out ways to improve and working with an executive coach allows you to do just that in a more effective and efficient way. I don’t know about you, yet we all have blind spots and understanding these can facilitate leadership growth.

In this blog we’ll go over some of the key leadership skills you’d develop if you chose to work with an executive coach. Specifically, we’ll go over:

  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Adaptive Thinking
  • Self-Awareness
  • Cognitive Flexibility
  • Collaboration

Each of these 5 skills are vital for every leader to reach their full potential and become one of the top leaders of our time. I challenge you to find one leader in your life that lacks one or more of these skills. But for now, let’s look at what each of these skills entails and how an executive coach can help you develop them.

These Five Leadership Skills Are The Key To Your Success

Emotional Intelligence

In a technological world, one trait that will never become outdated is emotional intelligence. In short, emotional intelligence (EQ for short) is the ability to be aware of and in control of one’s emotions. 

However, when it comes down to it, this skill can be one of the most difficult to master. Working to develop your own emotional intelligence is challenging because it involves identifying and managing our own emotions. 

Without assistance, this is nearly impossible. Your emotions are deeply ingrained in your way of life, and the older you get the more fixed they become.

When working with an executive coach, they can identify these for you, so you can work together to eliminate them or talk through them until they are no longer standing in your way of becoming a successful leader.

Once you’ve mastered that, identifying and managing your emotional responses to certain situations becomes quite a bit simpler. 

Emotional Intelligence is one of the leadership skills that almost everyone requires assistance with, and one that executive coaches have a wealth of experience in nurturing.

Adaptive Thinking

As we’ve learned from the past two years throughout this pandemic, being an adaptive thinker or leader is vital to the success of any organization. 

As humans we’re wired to seek consistency and habit due to the fact that consistency is more likely to lead to comfort. This innate desire to achieve some level of comfort directly impedes our ability to become adaptive thinkers.

In the end, this means that being an adaptive thinker does not come naturally to most individuals. 

However, this skill is within you. It just requires a mindset adjustment in order to bring it to light. 

The greatest innovators of our time aren’t smarter than the average person, they just know how to look at problems from all sorts of different angles and see things that most of us can’t. 

If this is one of the leadership skills you struggle with, an executive coach could be the answer. A coach will help you identify how to view the problems you’re facing from a different direction and help you overcome them in ways you simply wouldn’t be able to on your own.

Developing Leadership Skills - Man Adaptive Thinking


One leadership skill that will simply never go out of style is self-awareness. Not only will the development of this skill aid your professional development, but it will also assist you in improving several areas in your life.

Self-Awareness is arguably the most accessible skill to begin working on, but the most challenging to master. It involves becoming truly aware of your strengths and weaknesses and then developing habits or strategies to improve or optimize them.

The thing is, we may have strengths or weaknesses we simply aren’t aware of. Or, we believe we have specific strengths or weaknesses and the truth is we don’t.

Have you ever failed at something you thought for sure you’d succeed at? Have you ever succeeded at something you thought for sure you’d fail at?

Becoming truly self-aware means looking inwards at beliefs you may have had in place for decades and finding the faults in those beliefs. It’s similar to emotional intelligence in that sense.

An executive coach’s job is to help you identify exactly what those beliefs are and how you or your organization can benefit from them. What beliefs have you been holding onto that may be holding you back from becoming truly self-aware?

Cognitive Flexibility

Cognitive flexibility is all about moving from one concept or train of thought to another. In the business world, this is essential for any executive.

This skill is a more advanced form of multitasking. It’s the ability to perform a high-quality job in a short amount of time and then switch to another without losing out on efficiency or effectiveness.

I’m sure you can see now why this skill is one that every leader must have in their arsenal.

There will be times where you’re asked to do a week’s worth of work in an afternoon, and not only does it need to be done, it needs to be done at the standard you would provide if you actually did have a week to do it.

There are habits and strategies, both mental and physical, that can help you improve your cognitive flexibility. An executive coach would be able to walk you through exactly what those are.


Finally, a leadership skill that doesn’t rely on your own personal success.

Collaboration is one skill that current and future leaders will rely heavily on, as employees begin changing jobs and roles at a historic pace.

This skill involves bringing people together and inspiring them to achieve certain goals. This doesn’t mean spending 30-minutes every Monday shouting out inspirational quotes at your team members.

It’s more complex than that. 

Collaboration involves focusing on the personal traits and individual skillsets of your employees and working to build their roles out in a way that what they’re doing truly aligns with them on an emotional and personal level. 

When individuals feel connected to their work and to others in their organization,  great things can happen.

Being a collaborative leader can lead to phenomenal results, and by working with an executive coach, you can identify why your efforts to achieve collaboration on your team aren’t hitting their mark.


Looking to Develop These Leadership Skills?

Interested in learning about these five leadership skills on a more personal level? I’ve been coaching corporate executives like you to achieve peak performance for years. Contact me today at or call 781-608-1966 – Direct/Text to find out how we can work together and what we can achieve.

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CATEGORIES: Leadership, Personal Development, Professional Growth, Team Management

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