Back in 2000, there was a box office hit called Remember The Titans, based upon a true story. In the film, Denzel Washington leads his team to a series of undefeated victories and ultimately a championship win, while overcoming racial bias and division. It was a great movie, but I often think about what really helped him transform the team. He had to develop trust with and from his players, as well as guide them to victory. To reach that goal, he had to impose order, for sure, but I don’t think that anyone would say that it was his strict management style and focus on the goal that alone enabled the team’s transformation. It was his coaching approach that helped the players realize their true potential, and the same thing sometimes happens in our work lives as well.
The definitions matter.
A manager is typically thought of as one who is an effective leader of their team, who directs or manages a program or initiative for the company, but is also responsible for the development of a team or business practice or organization. The ultimate objective of such a manager is to meet the target and generate the desired outcome.
On the other hand a good business coach gives a greater focus on the human aspects of the team she manages – which entails a greater involvement in the process to provide encouragement and support to members of the team – it requires exploring the people and their motivations and skills more than just maintaining an emphasis on the outcome. So both a manager and a coach can lead a team to the goal, but if the person was a good coach, you would expect that they would provide more training, motivation and constantly upgrade the skill sets of the team. A good manager may show you how to do something, but a good coach is going to work on bringing out your full potential.
Which ultimately makes managing more about command and control and coaching is more about growth and development.
Now maybe you’ve had a manager that was also a great mentor, motivator or inspiration, and you’d consider this person to be a coach in addition to being your manager. If you’re lucky enough to work with someone who could keep the focus on the target and outcome but at the same time was willing to improve the team’s overall skills and effectiveness – then I’d say you won the jackpot! But you may be the exception that proves the rule.
According to recent talent research, it is found that modern employees value learning and career development opportunities more than the regular job. And this might be the reason why we respond so well to working with a manager who guides us towards our work goals and but also spends time working with us to help guide our career progression as well.
Unfortunately, many managers still think that training and coaching is a waste of their time and they believe that a job position should be filled with a person already possessing the required skills to perform it, and that’s where their responsibility stops. And there are some signs which can warn you if your manager doesn’t go the extra mile to try to be a good coach. You can know that you’re dealing with a manager that is NOT also a good coach when:
- Deadlines trump employee development every time.
- Growth and development plans are only spoken about in performance reviews, and are not followed up on.
- They talk about current roles for you, but never your career path.
- If asked, they can’t describe your strengths and weaknesses.
Why does it matter?
You may ask, “Is coaching that important?” In the grand scheme of things, is it really required for managers to also be good coaches? Some would say no. In the shrinking world of middle management, the role of manager as coach is not always considered or even asked for, and managers perform more often as players on the field themselves, and are responsible for generating the output and results themselves, without other people to manage or develop.
But even if it’s not a requirement, it comes down to what you want to get out of your career and life. Do you already have someone looking out for you? Someone you can review your progress with and get the kind of feedback that helps you clarify your priorities and accomplish what you envision for yourself? If your manager isn’t listening, helping you clarify, and giving you advice that moves you forward, then your level of engagement is likely to drop. And you can contrast this with the results of good coaching which has been shown to help employees become more self-reliant, productive and competitive.
Coaches still have to deliver.
Of course, coaches have to deliver, too. No one would Remember the Titans if they didn’t win the game, right? But it is a powerful story because their coach didn’t just act like a manager. The coach’s vision, efforts, and dedicated time helped the players realize their potential and win. Likewise, your coach must realize the importance of outcomes for you, and ensure that you make progress on meeting them, not just your own internal development.
But if your current manager isn’t a good coach, then maybe you should look into getting one. Because Denzel’s character is the kind of person that you want supporting you in moving forward in your career to meet your goals. That’s REAL coaching. And that’s what helps teams and individuals deliver and grow.
- Bullseye: Find And Activate Your Target Audience
- Focusing On What Matters Most: Gathering Insights About Yourself
- Do You Need A Coach?
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