The Role and Contribution of Coaching Style of the 21st Century’ Leader

Uloga i doprinos koučing stila lidera 21 tatjana mamula.veka
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HR Conference 2015

Ph.D. Tatjana Mamula, assistant professor (Univerzitet Metropolitan, Tadeuša Košćuška 63, Beograd,

M.Sc. Nikola Kužet (Saint-Gobain Rigips, Banja Luka)


Abstract: Due to the interactive and synergetic role of contemporary business processes, the need to pass decisions on all managerial levels has become the driving force in sustainable company business-making. In order to be competitive, the most important role of leaders today is to allocate their employees efficiently so as to be as creative and innovative as possible. The transformational leader of the 21 century, who is at the same time the leader in permanent learning and creation, is different concerning the manner of understanding the need of changing his or her manner and style of communicating with his or her employees who, under the impact and by accepting the change, themselves become creators of added value in the company. The coaching style of the leader has a positive impact on employee motivation and self-esteem as well as their creative dimension, which makes the company more competitive at the turbulent market. The paper is aimed at showing the role of the leader as the coach who develops the skills of empowering others in the business process and making them independent with the aim to utilize and increase their potentials, as well as at showing the effects such a coaching process generates through integrative contribution of the whole team. The paper presents the findings of a qualitative research on a suitable sample of leaders of international companies operating in Bosni and Herzegovina aimed at gaining an insight into their manner of thinking in terms of their role of the leader today and tomorrow.

Key words: transformational leader, coaching style, innovativeness, competitiveness, lifelong  learning



We bear witness to the fact that competition and permanent changes in technology have caused the need to transform and develop all areas of human life. The intensity of changes, caused by digitalization and globalization, opens up space for new manners of thinking aimed at sustainable company business-making for a longer period of time. The planet is faced with several massive changes: while resources are obviously limited, human ambitions and desires make them unlimited. Visibility of processes, transactions, and relations, enabled by the Internet and social networks, calls for even greater responsibility so as to make communication, business solutions, and cooperation as quality as possible. Survival of every human being, each organization, and even nations, depends on the possibility to keep in permanent contact with progress and changes in all spheres.

At company level, intangible assets represent an “engine” which enables company to function at the highly competitive market. In order to release the potential of individual creativity and manner of thinking in the new millennium, companies increasingly invest in intellectual property, rely on intense knowledge of their employees, and use their proposals and proactivity leading to innovation. Opportunities for changing evaluation of innovativeness, with implementation of leadership strategies based on employee knowledge, are growing. In the current stage of economic life, business will be developed after the thinking model rather than the product development and service rendering model. [1]


Lifelong learning is an obligation of everyone who wishes to become and remain a serious player at the market. The job position of a leader in the networking and collaborative economy era calls for a different manner of management based on the important role of the leader who stimulates exchange of knowledge through a network of stakeholders as well as the process of transfer of a part of his or her competences to co-workers within the team.

model-ucenja-21-veka tatjana mamula

Fig 1) 21st century learning model

In his book “The inventive manager in 100 lessons”, Velimir Srića distinguishes between two types of learning:

  1. Learning for survival – is the ability of the manager or organization to adapt to the environment, i.e. world and the market in answer to issues and challenges.
  2. Learning for creation – is the ability of the manager or organization to actively change their environment, recognize new opportunities, and find sources of creative ideas, to develop by perceiving and forecasting, or even creating new development trends. [2]

21st century leaders learn in order to create. They enjoy personal development. Lifelong learning is their determination, and they approach learning with a passion and desire to gain new knowledge which will be applied in practice.


Results of a two-year research conducted by Goleman et al. [3] indicate that mood and behavior of leaders have a direct impact on mood and behavior of employees. Inspirational leaders open up space for thinking and creating options in resolving even seemingly insurmountable challenges. The final result of the chain reaction between behavior and mood of the leader and employees is visible in company profits. A research conducted in 2012 [4] shows that as many as 77% of respondents (several hundred of employees in companies of different sizes) are more willing to purchase from companies whose missions and values are defined by leaders and teams active on social networks. [5] Leadership is a necessary factor in the strategic organizational change aimed at increasing creation of new and useful ideas by employees, as well as their implementation within the company. Using influence, relationships, and strategic behavior, leaders may inspire, support, streamline, and evaluate creativity of their employees, which results in competitiveness of the organization in contemporary business environment. [6] To survive at the market, it may be sufficient to follow changes and adapt to them, but those who want to give added value to development shift those boundaries thus becoming pioneers and generators of changes are leaders who create trends in their areas and are the first ones who introduce innovative solutions. Ketchum research of leaders [7] indicates that the concept of the “title-less leader” reflects the modern leadership concept based on the fact that leaders do not exist only in high positions, but may be found at all company levels, and that the notion of traditional title of leader as such is disappearing in modern organizational structures. “Businesses nowadays have to react more quickly than ever before, in order to keep ahead of their competitors. In order to achieve this, each employee – regardless of the decision-making level or position they occupy – needs to be empowered to use any option at any moment”, says John Bernard. [8].

According to Kotler et al. [9], 21st century marketing, or 3.0. marketing implies consumer participation and co-creation in brand development, while from the standpoint of development of corporate company culture, coaching has an important role in integrating employees through values communicated by the company (involvement of their mind, body, heart, and soul).


Goleman and Boyatzis [10] believe that companies interested in development of leadership need to assess willingness on part of their employees to change and include them in their development programs, applying tools which diagnose their strengths and weaknesses, strengthen their communication skills, and release the potential for perceiving a broader picture and a step ahead, all aimed at promoting company achievements. Leaders need to “shape” the new manner of thinking by adopting non-directive coaching style to replace directive styles such as mentoring, advising, and training. Many people use the terms mentoring, training, and coaching in almost the same meaning. “Coaching is partnership with a client in the contemplative-provoking and creative process which inspires them to maximally develop their personal and professional potentials.” [11] Coaching is a process which helps people to actively shift from the point where they currently are (either in business or private terms) to where they want to be. In most cases, not everyone has a defined idea where they would like to be; thus, coaching with its competences helps them find this out on their own. Transformation of the manner of thinking is not simple, as it is not easy to change deep-rooted opinions, beliefs, and perceptions of people. By asking carefully tailored questions, the coach provokes thinking and reflection of experiences, thus developing potential and creativity. Coaching is the most efficient form of work which enables use of the method of learning through experience. Such form of work implies responsibility of the very person who is being developed, and his or her active participation in empowerment of their capacities and skills. Using different methods of work, employees not only promote themselves, but also apply the developed skills, thus contributing to development of the organization. The role of the coach is not to teach, train, mediate, or be a mentor. The only knowledge the coach needs to have in order to support and assist others in their development and change, is the knowledge on the coaching processes, as well as the skills, tools, and techniques complementing this process. The main “weapon” in the coaching arsenal is a “well-asked question”, not offering solutions. (Figure 2.)

coach-mentor-ladder tatjana mamula

Sl. 2) Coach-mentor ladder

A new manner of thinking and communication of the leader with his or her employees is needed so that results of synergetic action could be efficient and effective, thus making companies successful in the 21st century business-making.


When business leaders accept coaching style, they do not place themselves in the role of an expert, but implement the skill of supporting others to promote and use their potential. Such manner of work has a very positive impact on motivation of others, their self-respect, and self-assurance. The leader who encourages employees to adopt coaching style has in his hands a powerful weapon which initiates and supports engagement at work. The solution we need tomorrow for issues we are faced with today will not stem out of solutions which were good in the past, as circumstances, resources, and actors are different. Still, every employee nowadays has the potential to reach an efficient solution and when they reach such a solution by themselves, this is very powerful, motivating, and empowering, which the coaching model actually tends to achieve.

coaching-stil-lider-21-veka tatjana mamula

Fig 3) Coaching style of the 21st century leader

Benefits of coaching as the managerial style of the leader are increased productivity and quality in work of individuals and teams alike, empowerment of enthusiasm of team work, development of trust, and increased employee satisfaction and loyalty. The difference made by coaching style is the leader’s support extended to all actors in the team who release additional potential for creativity and innovation through their contribution and mutual energy.

doprinos-coaching-stila-lidera tatjana mamula

Fig 4) Contribution of coaching style of the leader


In the course of October and November 2014, in-depth interviews were conducted with 20 international company managers in Bosnia and Herzegovina (from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Austria, Slovenia, Belgium, Germany, and Serbia). The aim of the survey was to understand the manner of thinking of managers and leaders, their familiarity with the difference between leadership and management, and gain an insight into their manner of balancing between successful career and quality private life. All respondents are aware that lifelong learning is necessary so as to maintain high competitiveness and success. They differ in terms of using available sources of new knowledge. Older respondents prefer traditional forms of learning, such as universities, professional journals, and professional associations. Younger respondents, except for books dealing with the topic of management and marketing, prefer sources from the Internet such as YouTube tutorials, Internet and Facebook pages. Younger respondents have a more active approach to learning. They express more interest in new technologies and trends, while older respondents mostly learn to maintain competence. All respondents agree that they frequently hear phrases such as “Nothing can be changed” or “That will make no difference”, and that they have different reactions to them. The results of the interviews indicate that most respondents equalize leadership with leading through example. They state motivation as an important ingredient of leading. A difference in the manner of thinking was perceived between members of generation X (born in the period from early 1960s and early 1980s), and members of generation Y (born after the early 1980s). According to the obtained responses, but also in conversation with participants in the research, it was perceived that younger managers care more about quality private life and that they look for manners of choosing careers which they adapt so that they suit their lifestyle, regardless of whether they are based on family values or hobbies. Successful members of generation Y, whose time is yet to come, look for companies which correspond to their values and lifestyles. They are not as loyal to their companies as members of generation X and are more likely to change job positions. While generation X thinks “How can I contribute to the company I work for”, generation Y thinks “How can the company contribute to quality of my life? “ [15]


In order to be competitive, the most important role of a leader todays is to efficiently allocate employees so as to make them as creative and innovative as possible. The transformational leader of 21st century, who is, at the same time, the leader in permanent learning and creation, is different in understanding of the need to change his or her own manner and style of communication with employees, who, under the impact and by accepting the change, themselves become creators of added value in the company. The role of coaching-style of the leader is in understanding employees by asking good questions, support in defining and achieving goals, either professional or private, as well as integration and visionary perception of future activities.

Coaching style of the leader has positive impact on motivation and self-assurance of employees and their creative potential, which makes the company sustainable at the highly competitive and turbulent market.


[1]  Mamula T. (2014) Uloga i doprinos posvećenosti zaposlenih u upravljanju odnosima stejkholdera, HR Konferencija: Upravljanje kvalitetom ljudskih resursa savremeni trendovi, Beograd, 23. oktobar 2014.

[2] Srića V.  (2004) Inventivni menadžer u 100 lekcija, str 18., Znanje d.d. Zagreb

[3] Goleman D., Boyatzis R. & McKnee A. (2001)  Primal Leadership: The Hidden Driver of Great Performance, Harvard Business Review, December 2001

[4] Brandfog Survey: Social Media Leadership Survey, 2012

[5] Popović–Pantić S, Mamula T. Uloga društvenih mreža u sektoru malih i srednjih preduzeća u tranzicionim ekonomijama, XIX naučni skup međunarodnog značaja „Tehnologija, kultura, razvoj“, Tivat, 28-30. avgust 2012.

[6] Agars, M., Kaufman, J. C., Deane, A., & Smith, B. (2012) Fostering individual creativity through organizational context: a review of recent research and recommendations for organizational leaders, Handbook of organizational creativity, Academic Press

[7] Ketchum

[8]  Bernard J. (2011) Business at the speed of now: Fire Up Your People, Thrill Your Customers, and Crush Your Competitors, Wiley, 2011

[9] Philip Kotler, Hermawan Kartajaya, and Iwan Setiawan (2010) Marketing 3.0., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey

[10] Goleman D. & Boyatzis R. (2008) Social Intelligence and the Biology of Leadership, Harvard Business Review, September 2008

[11] Definicija coaching-a po ICF: International Coach Federation, SAD


[13] [14]  Crtež by Gaša feachuring Pixpired

[15] Kužet N. (2014) Značaj i uloga ličnog razvoja lidera u inovativnom razvoju brenda i kompanije, master rad, Univerzitet Metropolitan, novembar 2014.

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