• Dave Veale

Unlocking the true potential of leadership coaching

Updated: Feb 9


As a human resources professional for more than two decades, Gail Lebel was well aware of coaching leaders and the benefits it can bring. But it wasn’t until she went to university to become a leadership coach herself that she was struck by its true power.


Enrolled in the highly respected executive coaching program at Royal Roads University, Gail found she was most challenged by making the shift in how she would coach someone.


Long accustomed to coaching others by providing advice based on her own experience and in mentoring leaders, Gail and the rest of her class were taught the effectiveness of the non-directive approach to coaching – asking questions to help leaders find answers within themselves and come to their own conclusions on the best way forward.


Big switch


“It is a big switch. It is easy to fall back into directive coaching and provide advice and direction, but that’s not what leadership coaching is about. I really believe in the non-directive approach,” says Gail, who earned a Graduate Certificate in Executive Coaching from Royal Roads last fall.


“Through the program, we explored our own strengths and opportunities, and what is holding us back in life. Growth happens when you allow yourself to be vulnerable. Helping others identify their own strengths and areas of opportunity as well as their own strategies for improvement is effective and very rewarding.”


It reminded me of my coaching education at Royal Roads in 2005, when I wrestled with that transition as well. There are times when being direct in your advice or playing the role of mentor is the best approach, but both Gail and I understand the real effectiveness in helping someone discover, and create, their own path through the challenges they are facing.


“I started on the journey to becoming a leadership coach because I could see the difference that the coaches we brought in from Vision were making in people’s lives and in the culture of the organization I was working with.” - Gail Lebel.

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and working with Gail since 2018, when she was vice-president at the Talent Centre of Excellence for J.D. Irving, Ltd. and our team provided leadership coaching for their top talent and high potentials.


She recognized leadership coaching as a way to develop talent, to inspire a more well-rounded leadership and to provide important leadership development opportunities. That, she knew, would create a better culture and lead to better performance.


'Marked difference'


“I would say that it made a marked difference in every individual I worked with who had the opportunity to have a leadership coach,” she says. “Inspiring the best in others through leadership coaching and creating a coaching culture is a competitive advantage for any organization.”


In the middle of her coaching education, she ended up making another shift – after more than 11 years with J.D. Irving, last fall she moved to Horizon Health to become vice-president and chief human resource officer.


In the new role, she’s looking forward to flexing her new coaching skills with leaders in the health-care field.


“I started on the journey to becoming a leadership coach because I could see the difference that the coaches we brought in from Vision were making in people’s lives and in the culture of the organization I was working with,” Gail says. “I’m excited to bring my new coaching perspective to my new job and to seeing the difference coaching can make at Horizon Health.”

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