Manage like a Coach

March 28, 2022

The role of business leaders is rapidly changing. It used to be based on their ability to manage and evaluate employee performance. But these days, three important factors have disrupted and complicated the managerial role. These are:

  • The rise in hybrid and remote work.
  • The shift to primarily knowledge-based work.
  • The changes in employee expectations.

To be successful in these new work environments, managers must prioritize team collaboration and decision making to lead effectively in today’s complex work environments.

The Decline of Command and Control Leadership

Command and control management involves a leadership model that is rigid and hierarchical. It is one in which the manager takes the role of an authority figure who has the final say in all workplace decisions. Employees often find this form of leadership restrictive and, at times, disrespectful because it seldom allows them to use their initiative or to develop their leadership potential. This can often lead employees to feel  that their voice is not heard when they make suggestions that may ultimately be important for the company’s success.

More and more, the command and control leadership approach is being shown to be ineffective. Today, employees who feel they are micromanaged are more likely to consider leaving their company for a new one that encourages initiative, autonomy, and respect. What’s more, managers who insist that their employees follow their lead are blocking off constructive feedback that not only keeps a company nimble and innovative but could change it for the better. Cultivating a psychologically safe environment is crucial for the free exchange of ideas, concerns, and questions.

The Shift in Management Persona 

Utilizing a coaching style in management allows leaders to present a more inspirational persona to their employees and to connect with them as a unified team and also on an individual level. This approach can enable managers to instill trust among employees and can create a culture of respect, open communication, and engagement. 

To be an effective manager, leaders need to guide and encourage the team members to get results, so the team can reach its full potential. The following qualities are the foundations for a coaching approach to management:

  • Good listening
  • Constructive feedback 
  • Empathy
  • Curiosity
  • Preparedness to collaborate

A coaching approach to leadership improves both the manager and the team. It increases employee retention, so companies can acquire and keep their best teams and maintain their investment. The leader as coach also gives managers and team members the confidence to bring up important challenges and have the conversations that are necessary to bring them to resolution.

The Benefits of The Manager as Coach

Both new and existing managers can benefit from adopting a coaching approach to management. It ensures that they develop an approach that can benefit the employees, the staff, and the company as a whole. It can also help to hone specific skills that are invaluable to lead other teams. Some of the main benefits include:

  • Increase employee engagement: Because employees feel they are valuable assets to the team, they participate more fully. 
  • Contribute more effectively: When employees have a voice, they feel confident about making suggestions and offering ideas. 
  • Improve performance: Individuals feel appreciated and so they are prepared to give their full attention to the task at hand. 
  • Identify and develop potential: Employees with specific skills and potential can easily be identified, allowing managers to encourage individual growth. 
  • Communicate more effectively: Leading as a coach enables managers to pass on important skills. 
  • Improve interrelations: Not only are communication and relations between management and employees improved, but also those between peers.

The Leader as Coach

The concept of the leader as coach represents an evolution in business management. One within which the leader becomes the biggest asset. This is because coaching is no longer merely a means of passing on what you know to a less experienced team member. It has become a way of asking questions in such a way that ignites insights in others. 

Successful leaders realize that they can’t fulfill every task alone. To be truly effective, they often need to focus their energy on a number of small initiatives that can bring about significant change. There are also instances when managers must complete certain parts of these initiatives themselves in a limited time frame. Coaching provides a viable alternative to delegating work completely by taking a directive approach in only specific aspects in order to avoid getting caught up in too many detailed parts where they don’t add value. Thus the manager frees up valuable time. 

As John Whitmore states in his book Coaching for Performance: GROWing Human Potential and Purpose - The Principles and Practice of Coaching and Leadership:

“Coaching is unlocking people’s potential to maximize their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them.” Not only does this build trust, but it also makes work more enjoyable for the team managers and team members.”

It’s clear to see how letting go of the command and control model of leadership can help increase productivity, engagement, and job satisfaction. By adopting a coaching approach to leadership, managers encourage team members to do things on their own, while still providing a mechanism for approval, feedback, and support. While taking some of the pressure off the manager, this management approach also inspires teams to take ownership of the challenges and seek out solutions on their own.

Ponder is working to cultivate healthy and high performing leadership within rapid growth organizations. The company aims to achieve this by creating compelling and informative content, professional development programs, and innovative software to support our growing community of managers and coaches.

As part of this process, we regularly connect with thought leaders who have researched and developed best practices. We’re fortunate to be able to share some of their insights with you. Sign up today to further your development as a leader or coach.

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