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Human Resources: How to approach a strong leader about coaching

Commanding leaders often drive their teams with a focus that borders on tunnel vision. While they intend to achieve results, their intensity can create stress, disengagement, and a stifled work environment.

As an HR professional, it's crucial to address these issues delicately and effectively, ensuring that these leaders understand the value of coaching for their personal growth and the health of their organization.

Yes, that conversation can be intimidating.

However, you must inform these dominant leaders that they need to adapt their styles.

Here is what to pay attention to. (Also, check out the Quick Sheet below.)

Use Empathy with Assertiveness

When talking to strong-willed leaders, tap into your heart and connect with theirs; remember that they have good intent when pushing hard for results.

Avoid criticizing their flaws directly. This approach often leads to resistance. Instead, describe specific situations where their approach was detrimental.

Maintain a firm yet respectful tone, anchoring your observations in undeniable facts.

You gain points when standing your ground and presenting a well-reasoned case. If you appear intimidated or uncertain, they may dismiss your concerns.

Encourage reflection through thought-provoking questions:

  • "Given what I've shared, how do you think your [behavior] resonated with others?"

  • "What do you think prompted you to respond in that manner?"

  • "What internal factors might have influenced your reaction?"

Allow for a pause after these questions, giving them time to ponder.

While initial defenses might rise, maintaining a composed and persistent inquiry can lead to more profound introspection.

Highlight the Long-Term Benefits

Dominant leaders often prioritize short-term results without seeing the broader implications.

Help them see the value in sustainable team success, higher engagement, and productivity without constant supervision. Talk about their legacy as leaders who uplift and maximize team potential.

Offer Constructive Solutions and Support

Remind them that while they may prefer a direct approach, not everyone resonates with that style.

Present solutions to develop greater self-awareness and emotional intelligence, such as:

  • Personality assessments (DiSC, Enneagram)

  • Emotional Intelligence evaluations

  • Comprehensive 360 feedback process

  • Tailored executive coaching

Emphasize that these initiatives are not about changing their core decisive personality (they don’t want to give that up) but to refine their leadership to be more motivational and influential.

Assure them of their critical role in the organization and their capacity for a more significant impact, envisioning a legacy of leadership that truly brings out the best in their teams.

Take Action and Follow Through

Don't wait! The cost of inaction is far greater than the effort required to adapt their leadership style.

QUICK SHEET – Do’s and Don’ts


  1. Ask Open-Ended Questions: Pose thought-provoking questions that encourage them to reflect on their behavior. For example, "Given what you've shared, how do you think your [behavior] resonated with others?" "What internal factors might have influenced your reaction?" 

IMPORTANT: Allow silence after these questions to prompt deeper reflection.

  1. Redirect by Name: If they are dominating the discussion, redirect by using their first name: “John, I like what you said, and here is another perspective.” “Rebecca, how do you think this affected them?" 

First names grab attention and emphasize the need to take responsibility. IMPORTANT: do not use titles like Dr. Sir or Professor. This sends a message that you are subservient to them.

  1. Compliment Their Achievements: Dominant leaders tend to be driven and accomplished individuals. Complimenting their achievements or successes can be an effective icebreaker. "I was really impressed by how you handled [specific situation]. Could you share your thought process behind that decision?"

  2. Be Prepared and Confident: Dominant leaders respect confidence and competence. Do your research, have your facts ready, and present your ideas or perspectives assertively. If they sense uncertainty, they’ll dismiss tour input.

  3. Be Direct and Concise: Don’t waste their time. That drives them up the wall. Get to the point quickly and concisely, without unnecessary preamble or small talk.

  4. Maintain Eye Contact: For them, direct eye contact means “No BS ahead.” Demonstrate self-assurance and convey that you are not intimidated by their presence.

  5. Use Purposeful Gestures:  Stand or sit upright with your shoulders back and chin level, giving a sense of self-assurance they respect. Employ purposeful hand gestures to emphasize key points or reinforce your message.


  1. Poor eye contact: Seeming insecure and intimidated

  2. Fidgeting or Nervous movements: Excessive fidgeting, foot-tapping, and playing with objects can signal anxiety

  3. Invading personal space: Dominant leaders value their space. Don’t stand too close or lean in too much; it can seem aggressive, and they’ll push back.

  4. Weak handshake: Nothing like a limp handshake to start the conversation. You’ve lost already!

  5. Losing your composure: don’t get angry, frustrated, or dramatic. You won’t impress them.

  6. Not respecting their value: In the end, remember that these people can get business results like no one else. Appreciate and emphasize that, and let them see how much more they could achieve.

 PS: To support your growth, I’m offering a free guide - Click to download:

These resources will give you practical strategies to become impactful leaders without sacrificing team morale or company culture.



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