You are already a coach whether you like it or not

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Where does it say 'coach' on this job description?
Where does it say 'coach' on this job description?

On my coaching skills for managers training courses, I will often ask the group to list what they think are the most important attributes of an effective coach.

Their most common replies include:

  • To be a good listener (this is always number one)
  • To have empathy and understanding
  • To be patient
  • To be non-judgemental
  • To have a sense of humour

Notice the list does not include ‘to be a technical expert’. We’ll come back to that later.

On other occasions I have explored with people what they want from their boss

Their most common replies include:

  • To listen, no, really listen to me
  • To try to see situations from my point of view not theirs
  • To be patient with me while I learn what I need to learn
  • Not to write me off the first time I make a mistake
  • Not to take themselves so seriously

Notice any similarity between the two lists? OK, I’ll admit I’ve taken a couple of liberties with the wording and the order, but the point remains clear: To be a manager of people and to be a coach are largely synonomous.

It is difficult to be someone’s boss without accepting responsibility for developing that person’s performance and growth. Some have tried and taken up a dictatorial approach to managing people but that just sends development into reverse and forces people to just do the minimum necessary to get by and keep out of trouble.

Neither list looks for expertise as a quality. This may be something that we’d like to think is important and that our people value but they don’t. A quick Google is often all that is needed for a bit of up to the minutue technical help these days.

So the days of the manager as expert are gone and the days of the manager as coach are here. We can either resist that change and stick to management methods that we largely formed in the nineteenth century or we can accept the challenge and develop a coaching skillset and attitude. The good news is the latter approach is what will really be appreciated and make a difference.

Matt Somers

Matt Somers

Matt Somers is the UK’s leading trainer of managers as coaches. His coaching skills training programmes, books, articles and seminars have helped thousands of managers achieve outstanding results through their people.

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