Managers in many organizations today are expected to ‘coach’ their employees. Can a manager be a coach? Well, yes … and no. Look for an excellent manager or leader and for sure that person will be using the skills of a coach to help their staff define and achieve their goals in alignment with the organization’s vision and direction.
Many good managers instinctively know, or have learned, how to make coach-like behaviour part of their management style. How do they do this? By listening acutely, questioning, challenging, supporting, mentoring, offering problem solving assistance, and providing non-judgmental feedback. It comes naturally to them because they care about their employees, believe in them, and create the conditions for their success. They understand that optimising people’s potential and performance is their role.
Coaching is essentially a people skill, and people skills are hugely valuable and valued in organizations, so it makes sense for managers to hone their ability to coach effectively.
But is a manager or a leader in an organization a coach in the same sense as a professional coach brought in to work with individuals in an organization? I would say not.
Taking on a new, more senior leadership role is like charging directly into the fast lane on a super highway. Eyes focused and intent, hands gripping the wheel, senses alert, adrenaline pumping. The new leader has hit the road and is ready to take on all challenges. This leader knows what to do. But does she or he know how to ”be?”
I asked a number of my current and former executive coaching clients what it was like for them to make this transition, and what tips they had for others about to do so. Here is a compilation of their reflections and my observations.
An Expanded View
The first thing apparent to leaders in new roles is that they are looking at a larger landscape than before. What that means is:
How Coaching Fits the World of Work
It’s no surprise that successfully running any business demands a multitude of talent, diverse skills, vast energy and more time for leaders than seems to be available in a day. And for small business owners in particular, it’s daunting to ‘grow it alone.’
In fact, the challenges in organizations of any size today are immense, and call for new ways to maximize performance. That’s one reason why coaching has become a cost efficient and effective way of helping people, and their organizations, grow, and achieve remarkable results.
Professional coaching is mushrooming throughout the world, with numerous training schools, university and college courses, and certification programs being developed at a rapid rate. The International Coach Federation (ICF) has now accredited hundreds of educational programs, and estimates that there are currently more than 25,000 coaches in 124 ICF chapters worldwide who are ICF members.
Coaching, as described by Robert Hargrove (author of Masterful Coaching, Extraordinary Results by Impacting People and the Way the Think and Work Together) ‘unleashes the human spirit and expands people’s capacity to achieve stretch goals and bring about real change.’
The obvious analogy with sports is not accidental. Coaches help others focus on a goal, stretch beyond their comfort zone, learn new ways of being and doing, and achieve results that amaze themselves and those around them.