Becoming the Coaching Manager: The Hard Way

Research points to managers (and leaders) being the cause of up to 30 percent difference in financial results. (Hay Group). Let me emphasize the point. Managers can influence results by up to 30 percent – increase or decrease – using the right leadership style at the right time.

Personal experience tells me that’s not easy. At one organization, my efforts to develop a high performing team were messy. I’m sure that the people on that team have even more colorful descriptions of it, and of me. I meant well. Still…

Managers imitate their models

It’s normal to try to become a manager like inspiring managers we have worked for. I believed in my vision, strove to set an example, and coached my people, just like my favorite boss. But I was not her. I would have to learn how to do it my own way using my own inner resources and learn new skills. I thought that coaching could set me apart from managers around me. That seemed important at the time.

By coaching, though, I mean that I talked with team members about what we, and they, needed to do. I taught, trained, supported, challenged, and encouraged them. How does that sound? It seems like a rough and ready definition of how to coach our people, right. I can see now that I expected them to do what I wanted. Often, I expected them to do it my way.

Cause and effect: Oops

The effect was that they had a shrinking definition of their success. They were right to resist and challenge me. Eventually I got help, thanks to my manager. But it required me to admit reluctantly that my efforts to be a certain kind of manager had created a stalemate with team members. It was the opposite of my intention.It took some figuring

I can see now that I was so not coaching. I would have said that I saw untapped potential in my people. But in fact, I had a hard time valuing what they brought to the team. It was different and didn’t look like my own abilities. I could not see the narrowness of my expectations. They saw what I did as an encroachment on their role and responsibilities as qualified professionals and adults at work. It would be great if they read this: I apologize.

As a starting point, I was muddled about what I was doing. No matter how talented you are, you can’t do everything and you can’t do it all at once.

What about you?

Are you doing performance coaching or developmental coaching? Or maybe it’s not coaching at all?

What effect is your coaching having on your people? Are you noticing whether it’s having an impact?

In my next post, I’ll describe the difference between performance coaching and developmental coaching. You’ll also learn how to set expectations about the two kinds of coaching so that you and they are clear about your roles.

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