Be a Coaching Manager

I have the honour of spending a lot of my time coaching managers. I get a lot of joy and satisfaction out of helping someone else be successful, helping them grow, and develop to be the best manager leaders they can be. I love learning and helping others to learn and become great leaders. That is my passion. That is my purpose.

This week is International Coaching Week. It’s a celebration of coaching as a profession. Coaches help develop stronger leaders, increase effective communication in the workplace and ultimately increase productivity and more fulfilled employees. The most successful organizations I’ve worked for value coaching as a developmental opportunity. They provide coaches for newly appointed and seasoned managers and leaders, to help give them the best opportunity to succeed in leading themselves and their teams. 

When I coach managers, we have a shared goal of helping them become coaching managers. 
Coaching managers have a desire to move from a command and control culture to developing a culture that empowers, motivates and celebrates employees. They do this because they know if their team is successful, ultimately the business is successful. They fundamentally understand success is not about them, it is about empowering others.

Coaching managers:

  • Believe in their team members and have an attitude of being helpful
  • Are good role models, they walk the talk
  • Trust their team to do the work
  • Don’t give answers, ask questions that encourage employees to think
  • Show less need for control, accept team members may do things differently
  • Are open to personal learning, feedback and being coached themselves
  • Don’t try to fix or change people, accept peoples strengths
  • Set challenges for themselves and team members
  • Have high standards
  • Back team members up when needed
  • Understand that coaching takes practice and effort
  • Work through their own discomfort in service of others
  • Show empathy when dealing with others
  • Include coaching as part of their everyday practice

For a coaching manager and the employee to have every chance of success in their coaching dialogue, it needs to be done within a coaching-friendly context, as described by James Hunt and Joseph Weiintraub in their book, The Coaching Manager.

The coaching-friendly context includes both the organizational context and competencies of individuals. 

Organizational values that support a coaching-friendly context are trust, openness and a philosophy of being a learning organization. A learning organization tolerates rather than punishes mistakes. It values reflection as an important process within organizational life. When mistakes are made, time is committed to reflection and learning so the organization can improve from the experience.

Coaching managers need minimum competencies in order to be effective at leading a coaching dialogue. These competencies also help leaders develop their teams. When coaching dialogues become part of the team culture, team members are more open, trusting and committed to helping each other succeed. 

Competencies of coaching managers are:

  • Demonstrate self-awareness
  • Creates a trusting team environment
  • Promotes learning among team members and of themselves
  • Is an effective listener and communicator
  • Is present and accessible

How do you measure up? 

And finally, an employee needs to be coachable. They need to be open to learning, open to taking on challenges and embracing opportunities to pursue goals. They also need to be open to making mistakes and learning from them because this will happen. When we are challenged, we can make mistakes. Even if mistakes aren't made, there is always learning opportunities in every situation. 

Asking the following questions will help start a coaching dialogue:

  • What were you trying to accomplish?
  • How did it go for you?
  • What did you learn from this situation?
  • What will you stop doing?
  • What will you start doing?
  • What should you continue to do?
  • What will you do differently next time?

Remember, even the best, most seasoned and effective leaders have coaches. That is part of the reason they are successful. Like the best sports people who have coaches, sometimes a number of them to help them develop certain skills, organizational leaders know they need coaches to help develop their leadership skill. 

Having a coach is a sign of strength. It is a sign that you are committed and engaged to the ongoing cycle of learning, action, reflection. The coaching dialogue process and related action is what will help you and your team achieve more success in the workplace.

Be a coach for others and find a coach for yourself.

If you want to learn more, I can help! As part of coaching week I am offering a free 2 hour coaching call. No gimmicks, no obligation, no commitment. If you’re interested, sign up below or email me today on

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The ideas in this blog post were inspired by the book The Coaching Manager: Developing Top Talent in Business, James Hunt and Joseph Weintraub. This book helped me become a great coaching manager. If you want to engage in your own learning about coming an effective coaching manager, this book is a great place to start.