Do Managers Need to Develop Good Coaching Skills? And If So, Why Do Managers Need Coaching Skills?
Several months ago, I flew home from a management-leadership program I was teaching for a company in Phoenix. One of the benefits of being a frequent flier is that… on rare occasions, the airline bumps me up to first class. This was one of those occasions. It was awesome. I was one of the first people on the plane. In addition, I had a window seat. So, I put my bag in the overhead compartment.
The flight attendant even offered me a Woodford Reserve before we left the ground. This was turning into a great flight. I put my Airpods in and began to scan social media on my iPad. The guy in the aisle seat then showed up. He put his bag away as well. I looked up at him and smiled as he seated himself.
Then, quickly, I glanced back at my iPad. (If you make eye contact for too long, the person may think you want to chat. Since I had just finished a long teaching day, I preferred just to recharge my battery… Quietly and alone.
All of a sudden, I see his lips moving. (To be honest, I’m not sure how long his lips had been moving as I was intently focused on a funny cat video.) I pulled my left earbud out.
“Are you going home or going to work?” He asked.
I replied, letting him know I was going home. He then asked what I was doing in Phoenix. Still not wanting to encourage him, I just replied back, “I was here teaching a class.”
Management Skills and Leadership Skills Are Total Different Areas for Development.
His eyes lit up, and he asked, “Oh wow, what do you teach?”
At this point, I just put my earbuds back in their case. Then, I answered, “I help companies develop management skills within their company leaders or, as with the group today, within their sales team.”
As the conversation continued, it hit me that this guy was asking very good questions. In fact, he was exhibiting more essential coaching skills to me than I was exhibiting to him. He seemed fascinated by my responses. And the longer the conversation went on, the more fascinated I was with him as well.
During the conversation, I asked him if he considered his boss to be a good manager, and he said, “Yes, he is.” I then asked him if he thought his boss was a good leader. After thinking a moment, he said, “No, don’t think that he is.”
This man is not alone. According to a survey by Goodhire most people like their manager. The survey showed the following:
- 70% of workers enjoy working for their manager.
- 82% say they would quit because of a bad manager.
- Only 22% believe that their manager trusts them when they work remotely.
Granted, the survey only asked about trust related to remote work. However, the survey shows an interesting disconnect. Most workers like their boss. They say that if they didn’t like their boss, they’d quit. However, just because we like each other doesn’t mean we all trust each other.
This understanding offers a tremendous opportunity for managers and supervisors to set themselves apart from the competition. Managers or team leaders who develop important leadership skills can build trust with their direct reports. Assuming that your team members already like you, below are a few leadership development ideas to help.
Coaching Skills for Managers-The Five Cs of Management.
Keep in mind that to be a success in business, consistent performance improvement is critical. You may be good at one or more of the key skills we outline below. but these ideas are ones that you have to improve on a regular basis. Think about improving your team performance like becoming a world-class athlete. You can take a class once and improve your skill in a sport dramatically. However, if you never practice that skill, you will never become a world-class athlete.
The same is true with your coaching approach. You can attend management training courses. Each will help you improve your communication skills and grow in emotional intelligence. But good coaching occurs when managers develop skill improvement over time. You can’t be a great coach by giving positive feedback one time. So, set goals to develop a habit of continuous learning.
Good coaches will spend a day or a week focusing on each of the ideas below. Then, once they create new behaviors in each area, they go back and focus on each area again and again. The more you study these ideas, the more times you will develop an entirely new approach in each area.
For additional details about the difference between leadership skills and managements skills, click here.
Character: Before Managers Develop Coaching Skills, You Must Have Great Character.
This should go without saying. But if you have a low or immoral character, no one is going to follow you. So, before you focus on being a better coach, make sure you focus first on personal growth.
People will not follow someone for long if they can’t trust them. A great coaching technique or an alteration in management style won’t work if your team doesn’t have a high level of trust in you and your character.
The #MeToo scandal in 2018 and 2019 brought many of these trust issues to the surface. According to the NY Times, the CEO of MacDonald’s was ousted because of a consensual relationship with a senior executive on his team. The board said they fired the CEO because it is inappropriate to show favoritism based on emotions rather than on the best interests of the company. They were right. The CEO has to be the model for his or her leadership team.
A true leader provides employees with an example or model to strive for. The best managers I’ve ever had were the ones that I looked up to. They were my career role model.
Great Managers Should Be a Role Model of Character for their Team.
I’ll give you an example. Because I was a pretty good student in school, I earned two really important internships while I was in college. One was during my Junior year, and the other was when I was a senior. The first one was with a HUGE Fortune 500 company. I think I saw my boss about four times during the entire summer I worked there. I’m sure he was a good guy. But he and I had no relationship.
The next summer, though, an entrepreneur hired me. I was one of five employees in the entire company. Three of the employees were him, his dad, and his mom. Even though I was a new employee, It was as though I’d become a part of his family. He was stern, and he expected high-performance work from me. The main thing that I remember about that summer so many years ago was this man’s character. Every day when I came to work, I said to myself, “I want to be like him.” (I never said that once the prior summer.)
If you want to be a great leader for your team, you want to create an example where they say these same words about you every day.
Caring: In Order to Be a Great Coach for Your Team, You Have to Care About Each Intently.
The old cliché is true: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
When Lou Holtz was coach at Notre Dame, the second question he used to ask every player before being selected to play after “Can I trust you?” was, “Do you CARE about me, your teammates, and Notre Dame?” If a player had a selfish motive for being on the team and didn’t care enough to put the team’s interests first, he didn’t want that young man on the team. He also said if the young man didn’t believe that he could trust the coach and feel cared about in return, he shouldn’t want to be on the team. Leaders show they care about their team personally and professionally.
Employee engagement will dwindle if they don’t feel cared for and connected to their company. Feeling cared for by a company and its leaders encourages employees to put forth their best effort. That best effort will flow into productivity and new ideas or innovations.
The most successful managers will look for and recognize budding employee experience and help it flourish with consistent coaching. The easiest way to show that you care about each and every team member is to begin informal coaching conversations with each. This doesn’t have to be a formal meeting. The process can be as simple as starting with, “Where do you want to be three to five years from now? How can I help you get there?”
Effective managers can become effective leaders by starting new conversations with their teams!
Commitment: Managers Need to Have a Passion for Their Business that Is Contagious.
There’s a poster on the gym wall in Clint Eastwood’s movie Million Dollar Baby that says “Winners are simply willing to do what losers won’t.” Leaders are like that also. They DO things poor managers won’t do.
Sam Walton was the founder of Walmart. He bought a five-and-dime store in a tiny town in northwest Arkansas and built it into one of the biggest companies in the world. What was his number one rule for business success?
“Commit to your business. Believe in it more than anybody else.
I think I overcame every single one of my personal shortcomings by the sheer passion I brought to my work. I don’t know if you’re born with this kind of passion, or if you can learn it. But I do know you need it. If you love your work, you’ll be out there every day trying to do it the best you possibly can, and pretty soon everybody around will catch the passion from you—like a fever.” (Courtesy of the Walmart Museum.)
A company can flourish with good work, but a new company just starting out won’t thrive without ambition driven by passion. If I don’t believe in an idea or goal, how can I expect my staff to? Much less expect them to follow me? Management’s drive sets the tone for the company’s goals. Effective management will guide employee performance toward strong results. A poor manager instead will drive employees out and increase employee turnover.
Confidence: Good Leaders and Good Managers Show Confidence to Their Team Members.
By far, one of the most important skills to develop when you want to lead people is confidence. Leaders know where they are going and demonstrate by their words and actions that there is no doubt that they will arrive. Furthermore, they make you want to go with them. They instill confidence in you as well. They get you to believe in yourself and your team and to see yourself as winners before it actually occurs.
During World War II, the United Kingdom was in turmoil. The Nazis attacked and bombed major cities all over the island. The British people needed a confident leader. So, in the middle of the war, they elected Winston Churchill as prime minister. Interestingly, he wasn’t elected because he was a great people leader. (He had been passed over for Prime Minister a number of times for more savvy politicians.) He was elected because they needed a bold and confident leader.
One of his most famous speeches was the “Never Give in Speech.”
Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never–in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. There was no flinching and no thought of giving in; and by what seemed almost a miracle to those outside these Islands, though we ourselves never doubted it, we now find ourselves in a position where I say that we can be sure that we have only to persevere to conquer.
Churchill’s leadership style would prove so powerful that he would be elected Prime Minister again in 1951. The point here is that confidence can overcome a lot of deficiencies. Be bold and believe in yourself, and your team will believe in you too.
Communication: Coaching Skills for Managers Depend on Good Communication Skills.
Leaders have crystal clear compelling visions and communicate those visions repeatedly. One of the last traits of a good manager and leader is communication. The right person will use their communication to push things in the right direction of the company’s goals.
One important point is that people like to communicate in different ways. In the next few posts, we will explore how to determine the communication style that each team member prefers. But for now, there are a couple of important things that can help.
First, good managers (good leaders) listen more than they give direction. A poor manager will start each day by checking off the tasks that need to be accomplished today. Instead, ask your team members what the priorities for the day are. If one or more of your priorities are not on the list, ask them if they will be able to get to that item.
Second, be careful about solving challenges for your team. When my team members come to me for advice, I have to fight the urge to just solve the problem for them. Often, they aren’t really looking for advice. Instead, they are looking for approval. Try responding with a phrase like, “What do you think we should do?”
Managers who develop these qualities will create an environment where their team will willingly do what they would not otherwise do. Not only that, but job satisfaction increases when employees work under good management.