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Training for the coaching leader: how organizations can support managers

Julia Milner (EDHEC Business School, Roubaix, France)
Grace McCarthy (Sydney Business School, University of Wollongong , Wollongong, Australia)
Trenton Milner (International Centre for Leadership Coaching, Sydney Business School, Sydney, Australia)

Journal of Management Development

ISSN: 0262-1711

Article publication date: 5 March 2018




The demand for leaders to coach their employees is increasing as the benefits become more and more evident. However, little is known about the training managers have received in coaching or what support is available/required from their organizations. The paper aims to discuss this issue.


The paper encompassed a survey of 580 managers in Australian organizations with more than 200 employees. The authors used qualitative thematic analysis to examine the extensive free text answers.


The findings indicated that while some managers had received some form of training in coaching (30-40 percent, depending on training type), 40 percent of them expressed a desire for introductory and/or further training. The findings suggest that training should be tailored to the managerial context instead of a generic coaching training, with a more structured and coordinated approach to organizational coaching required.

Practical implications

Organizations could benefit from supporting managers with the following strategies: Why – Organizations need to explain clearly why a coaching leadership style is beneficial. How – Training can come in many forms from workshops to “on-the-job” learning. When – Managers want more insights into when and when not to use a coaching style. What – it should not be assumed that all leaders possess coaching skills but rather those coaching skills need to be acquired and developed.


This paper offers insight into current training and support structures for “leadership coaching”, and suggests strategies to help managers to implement coaching as a leadership skillset.



This work was supported by Sydney Business School (University of Wollongong) Research Grant.


Milner, J., McCarthy, G. and Milner, T. (2018), "Training for the coaching leader: how organizations can support managers", Journal of Management Development, Vol. 37 No. 2, pp. 188-200.



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