Have you ever seen a soccer team without a coach? A professional runner? A hockey team maybe? Probably not. Fortunately, because without coaches, many of these teams would never hold a cup or carry a medal around their neck. A coach provides mental support to the individual players, analyzes their strengths and weaknesses and ensures that all buttons are properly adjusted so that the team achieves the best possible result. The coach also ensures good team spirit and attracts new players who make the team stronger. Does this sound familiar?
A coach is a lot like a manager, don't you think? Just like a coach, a manager must focus on the success and growth of individual team members so that the team grows stronger and achieves its goals. The manager must know how the team is built: its qualities and pitfalls, what individual players excel in and what strenghtens them as a team. However,many managers still lack these qualities. What is going on here?
One manager is not the other
Earlier, we wrote about how few managers succeed in their leadership task. Global research shows that only 18 percent of all managers succeed in their mission (Harter, 2018). Not very strange, considering managers often get their position by working hard and getting promoted. In many companies this is 'fair'. It is seen as a matter of earning and awarding, and personality traits are not considered. In other cases, future managers simply apply for their dream job. Unfortunately, this ambition does not guarantee them being successful in a managerial position.
The right skills to progress
A good manager must posess the skills and qualities that will take the team forward. This concerns an arsenal of soft skills, from delegating to decision making. A skill that is getting a lot of attention these days is by far the most important: coaching. A good manager not only ensures that goals are achieved, but also that the development of the individual is not forgotten. That there is room for speaking as well as listening. This leads to a one-sided relationship turning into a two-sided relationship. We also call this coaching leadership.
That is why personal qualities are more important than experience
What is coaching leadership?
Crasborn & Sevinga (2018) define coaching leadership as exploiting and connecting the ambitions and potential of employees, teams and organisations. The focus is on the ambition and development goal of the employee. From a relationship based on trust and commitment, the manager guides the employee towards achieving long-term goals.
Why coaching leadership?
The world has changed. Not only companies, but also the new generation of employees is purpose-driven. Employees no longer want to clock in at 9 sharp, perform brain-killing tasks and then clock out again at 5. People have their own goals; they want their work to contribute to a more meaningful life. Gone are the days when people had 'a boss', they now want a coach. Today's employees expect employers to invest in their personal and professional development (Watkinson, 2021b). This way they can do more with what they are good at, and grow consistently.
The connecting power of coaching leadership
The strenght of this method is that the personal goals of the employee become connected to the work and the company. Their daily effort is no longer only valuable to the company, but also to themselves. By talking less, asking more questions, and listening more, the manager is able to identify individual strengths. By nurturing these strengths, the emphasis is on the growth and success of the employee. This results in high involvement, less staff turnover, more happiness at work, more productive employees and a positive work environment.
Coaching is a directed form of letting go
Although the benefits speak for themselves, many managers still have their doubts about this approach. After all, it is the manager who has to let go of the employees. Coaching leadership means employees gain more ownership of their work, meaning they are much more in control. Although they are the captains of their development, they all belong to the same fleet. The manager makes sure they all follow the same course. So it is not a matter of letting go completely, but letting go in a controlled manner. Giving enough room to grow, but continuing to monitor the needs of the team.
We have read
- Crasborn, J., & Sevinga, P. (2018). Het grote boek over coachend leidinggeven (1st ed.). Theme.
- Harter, J. A. B. R. B. J. (2018, October 22). Why Great Managers Are So Rare. Gallup.com. https://www.gallup.com/workplace/231593/why-great-managers-rare.aspx
- Watkinson, B. R. K. A. A. (2021b, October 8). Don't Overcomplicate the Best Management Practice: Coaching. Gallup.com. https://www.gallup.com/workplace/354758/don-overcomplicate-best-management-practice-coaching.aspx