Supporting Coaching: A Toolkit for Leaders
  • 17 Nov 2023
  • 5 Minutes to read

Supporting Coaching: A Toolkit for Leaders

Article Summary

This toolkit is designed to give you an overview of your direct report’s Torch Coaching experience. You’ll get a sense of how coaching works, what it’s used for, what the 360 leadership assessment is, and, most importantly, how you can best support your direct report in their coaching journey as their leader.

What is coaching and how can coaching be used?

Leadership coaching is the process of facilitating and accelerating an individual’s professional growth, productivity, and fulfillment through dialogue, reflection, and strategic action. During leadership coaching, participants are challenged not just to learn new skills but to expand their thinking, awareness, perception, and behavior. This equips them to see solutions for situations that they are unable to navigate successfully with their current way of thinking. Goals for coaching engagements are personalized to a leader’s unique situation and can encompass:

  • Ongoing development - Working on leadership skills

  • Situational support - Talking through tough situations, preparing for big meetings or difficult conversations

  • Overcoming internal blockers to success - Identifying limiting beliefs keeping a participant from taking their career to the next level 

  • Improving professional relationships and communication - Closing the gap between the current and ideal state in interpersonal and team interactions

  • Career planning - Thought partnership in visioning and planning a participant’s career trajectory

What is my role as a manager to someone who is being coached?

While the outcome of any given coaching experience will be largely driven by the person being coached, coaching works best when it is supported by a leader. Review the table below to learn more about your role and responsibilities and the role and responsibilities of the participant (your employee or direct report) and coach in a coaching engagement.




Align with your direct report on their development goals and suggest additional feedback in alignment with your company priorities

Drive the partnership by setting goals and meeting objectives

Support the participant’s development goals

Provide prompt and thoughtful 360 feedback and encourage others to do so

Engage in self-reflection and communicate with the coach openly and honestly

Provide situational and professional support by acting as a sounding board and guide rather than an instructor

Make sure your direct report knows they can and should carve out time to focus on their coaching

Create action steps that drive toward their goals

Help uncover unseen information by asking questions and sharing observations

Check-in throughout the journey – ask how the experience is progressing, give feedback on goals, etc.

Solicit feedback from their own direct reports, peers, and manager

Give structure to the participant’s process and growth

Coaching Engagement Timeline & Manager Actions

The suggested actions you should take to best support your direct report’s coaching experience are organized chronologically below by the start of coaching, during coaching, and the end of coaching.

Start of Coaching

Provide verbal feedback that the participant can bring into coaching

Complete the following exercise to help you as a leader provide insight, perspective, and feedback to your direct report who is being coached. You could also ask the coaching participant to do this exercise and then discuss together.

Identify a time or situation where your direct report was at their absolute best (for participant self-reflection, identify a time or situation where you were at your absolute best).

  • What was it?

  • What were the surrounding circumstances?

  • What was the outcome? 

  • What skills did they demonstrate?

  • What talents and behaviors were showcased?

  • What made this so impactful and memorable?

Now consider a few specific examples where your direct report was not at their best (for participant self-reflect, consider a few specific examples where you were not at your best). Without getting stuck in the individual instances, zoom out and see if you notice any common themes.

  • What were the surrounding circumstances?

  • What skills would have improved the outcome?

  • What talents or behaviors would have helped improve the outcome?

  • What was the largest opportunity for professional growth?

Support the 360 process

Each coaching engagement begins with the opportunity for the participant to complete the Torch 360 Leadership Assessment, and invite others to provide feedback on their leadership competencies. The Torch 360 Leadership Assessment, more commonly referred to as the Torch 360, 360 assessment, or just "the 360", is a state-of-the-art leadership assessment which leverages holistic and evidence-based research to help participants pinpoint the highest value areas of behavioral change. It allows participants to reflect about themselves and receive feedback from others in one comprehensive tool. To ensure your participant gets the most from their 360 assessment:

  • Offer to provide input on the direct reports, cross-functional colleagues, and skip-level leaders that should be included. The participant should select colleagues who work closely with them and who will provide honest feedback.

  • Make sure you respond promptly when you receive the email invitation to provide feedback and encourage others to do the same. Many coaching engagements are delayed when peers and leaders are too busy to provide timely feedback.

NOTE: As their direct leader, your scoring will be visible to the participant as coming from a manager. Your qualitative feedback will be anonymous. For more information on 360 feedback guidance and privacy details, reference this article.

During Coaching

As your direct report makes their way through their coaching experience, consider the following.

Ask how you can best support the participant

Some participants will want feedback and dialogue while others may prefer space to work on improvements before wanting to engage.

Check-in periodically and ask how their coaching engagement is going

Questions that respect the confidentiality of coaching while opening the door for dialogue include:

  • What have you learned recently that you wish you knew sooner?

  • How is your coaching experience going? Any feedback I should pass along or support you need?

  • Are you approaching anything differently now that you are working with a coach?

  • What thoughts do you have about what you want out of your career here? 

  • What can I do to support you in your growth? Are there specific opportunities, connections, or projects that I can connect you with? 

  • Are there any obstacles you’re facing that I can help remove or minimize?

Recognize positive changes, and provide timely and specific recognition

For any positive changes you notice in your direct report, let them know what you’ve observed.

Facilitate personal and professional learning

Ensure that if or when your direct report makes a mistake, they find the learning from the misstep rather than focusing on the mistake.

Attend a Manager Alignment Meeting, if applicable

If a Manager Alignment Meeting is included in your organization’s coaching program, make sure to prepare for and attend the meeting if your direct report invites you to one.

End of Coaching

The end of coaching provides a great opportunity to recap growth. It’s also an opportunity to ensure the participant has a go-forward plan. Reference the suggested topics and questions to use below:

  • Share some significant changes that you have observed over this period. (Be specific! You can leverage the positive feedback from the exercise in the “Start of Coaching” section)

  • What is the most important new practice that you will carry forward?

  • How do you continue this forward momentum?

  • How do you plan on continuing your growth?

  • What’s next?

  • How can I support you as you continue your growth?

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