Coaching Versus Managing for Success In Sports and In Business
With the start of the World Cup Soccer this week, many of us have sports on our mind. It is interesting how various concepts used in the business leadership world are similar if not the same as those used in sports. Working together as a team, receiving/providing coaching, and responding to adversity are important skills in both athletic and business pursuits. A good business leader has plenty in common with the head coach of a soccer or football team. Their job is to get the best possible performance from the team as a whole – and from each member of the team as an individual.
Unfortunately, too many businesses fail to focus enough resources on coaching.
In one study by globoforce, “93% of responses marked ‘Yes’ they believe that their managers need training on how to coach employees.” This demonstrates a clear need for a shift from a managerial-type role to more of a coaching-type role.
The best coaches understand the distinction between coaching and managing. With managing, the goal is compliance. Managers are much more directive, task centered, and reactive. On the other hand, coaches are more inclusive, person centered, and proactive, with the end goal being development. As Sir John Whitmore explains, “Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their performance; helping them learn rather than teaching them.” A person is much more likely to succeed if they are permitted to think for themselves; being coached, rather than managed.
You can direct a person to kick the ball in the net but until they learn to do it themselves, they really haven’t grown and are less likely to do it again without your direction. Likewise, you can direct someone to complete a task but encouraging them to come with a solution themselves will be exponentially more impactful. It is thus in the interest of both parties to focus on coaching skills rather than managing.
Simply put, the best coaches ask more and tell less.
Cutting edge cognitive psychology and neuroscience back this notion up. Insightful, thoughtful, and meaningful questions can compel the coachee to develop themselves with new found excitement and clarity. Asking thought-provoking open-ended questions, the simplest being, “What do you think is best?” helps them come up with a solution they want to work on. Consequently, they are more engaged because you allowed them to come up with the idea themselves.
Be mindful of questions that have the solution hinted within the question; this will only stunt the creative processes of the brain!
The most important dichotomy between coaching and managing is the end goal. Do you want to direct your employees into compliance or develop them to come up with solutions themselves?
Matt Sandel is Learning Architect at DX-Learning Solutions. His opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any of the organizations with which he is affiliated. To get in touch with Matt feel free to email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.