Business Eye


What is Real Leadership?

Neil Gabbie


Neil is an Executive & Leadership Coach and mentor for Finance Teams & Top-Performers. He offers 1 to 1 executive coaching and leadership development programs to ambitious and visionary leaders and also to their teams, to support the delivery of transformation within their organisations and themselves.


Neil is a Chartered Accountant who trained with a Big 4 accounting firm. He also has over 15 years’ working for a Fortune company (Kellogg Company).


Neil’s focus is on mindset and the transformations that can occur when we challenge what we believe to be true about our world and ourselves.




The field of coaching has been around for years. It became more popular during the 1970's and 1980's however, when it took on the form of executive coaching and business coaching. In the 1990's, business coaching started to make the transition to general life coaching and its many applications. Today, life coaching is accessible and very useful for everyone, not just executives and top performers within organizations.


Excluding sports, there generally are two broad categories of coaching:

1) personal or life coaching,

2) business and executive coaching.


There is overlap, too. Clients grappling with balancing work and life, for example, may harness benefits both in professional and personal areas. You’re only as successful at work as you are in your well-being and relationships. It all runs together.


Life Coaching


A life coach is a person who understands the principles of effective goal setting and personal development tools. A life coach knows how to apply these principles, and helps others to effectively put these principles to work in their own lives. Life coaches help people define a clearer vision for their life and create actions to achieve this vision. Simply put, a life coach empowers their clients to be the best they can be!



In a typical life coaching session, the coach uses powerful questioning techniques and other reflective and perspective-challenging practices so a client can create mini action plans for his or her next steps. Life coaching propels action, helping clients increase self-awareness, clarify their goals, raise their confidence and commitment and identify paths to their goals.


Business Coaching


Business coaching has a specific focus on business-related coaching. Business coaches usually undergo some form of coach training and work with business owners independently. A trained business coach works with clients on a variety of goals, some of each include reviving the strategy, improving organization, identifying marketing needs, and boosting the overall performance of a business. 


Business coaches are trained to recognize and help resolve issues and stumbling blocks around many areas of a business. They can also help their clients to problem solve any future issues as they arise.


A business coach, therefore, works in a partnership with their client (a business owner) to grow their company and/or solve a business-related obstacle.



When guidance is needed to elicit a peak performance, many people turn to coaching. Whether it is on the field or in the office, or for hobbies, personal or professional reasons, successful people from all walks of life have been using this valuable tool to achieve their goals quickly and effectively for years.


This may explain why new trends have emerged in which many adults are turning to life coaches in their off hours to search for personal fulfilment, while still others opt for a much different type of coaching at work to enhance their skill sets, expand their potential and make their employees more effective in their roles in the company.

But how does one differentiate between life coaching and business coaching? One major difference is that life coaching focuses on more personal issues, while in business coaching you anchor the work in business objectives.


The accountability is with the client and his or her internal advocate so that what they are working on is improving their leadership skills and ultimately the business bottom line.







It does not solely revolve around the client as it does in life coaching. For instance, in life coaching a client’s goal may be to lose weight, but if they choose not to work out or eat properly, it doesn’t affect the bottom line of anything other than his or her own personal goals, whereas when individuals being professionally coached don’t meet the obligations they’ve agreed to, there are extensive evaluations conducted throughout the process and the lack of expected results can resonate throughout an organization.

Business coaching is a developmental process designed to help individuals and teams achieve and sustain top performance in ways that are linked to the organization’s needs.


Recently this type of coaching has taken on whole new connotation in the modern workplace. The opinion of coaching has come full circle in corporate America. Today, it means that a company is interested in investing in its employees’ high potential.

Another key difference between life and business coaching is in the reporting structure—in life coaching it is just between the coach and the client, whereas in business coaching the contract involves the coach, the coachee and that person’s manager.


An alliance is created that is clearly understood and driven by the client so that confidentiality and accountability can be built. But you should never have a situation where all parties don’t agree on the level of disclosure - you can’t effectively coach someone if they say, ‘You can’t tell my boss anything. In fact, most professional coaches encourage collaborative meetings and teach their clients to share information about the process themselves, so it is reported from the client and the coach.

While life coaching directives tend to be mapped out with the individual’s goals in mind, specific or vague, business coaching can offer measurable improvements for both the person being coached and the organization itself. It can come from an external source or from someone trained to provide it within an organization.


Of course, to stay competitive in today’s economy, it is imperative for organizations to utilize their resources to the fullest extent. However, today’s leaders have had to do more with less, and in focusing on driving forward they often subsequently spend very little time developing their people.


That’s a trap many leaders fall into—being busy can feel productive, yet actually slowing down and using your resources more efficiently can lead to much higher productivity. Some leaders can forget that there is a great deal to learn from their people.



Experts have identified several key areas that leadership skills fall into: people skills, business skills and overall effectiveness. In most cases the business skills and effectiveness are in need of less development than people skills. This is the area where most leaders are lacking.


These very necessary people skills come into play for those in leadership roles when holding development conversations, bringing up issues about performance (positive or negative) and remembering to maximize their ‘people resource’ by really listening and paying attention to what their team is thinking.

Business coaching targets the individual organization’s direction and strategy to make the most of a company’s most valuable assets—its employees. Coaching should be anchored in the business objectives of an organization. You should establish coaching relationships with enough process in them to meet the individual’s needs and still ensure a significant return on investment for the organization as well as the individual.

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