Developing Your Talent

Don’t Just Manage — Coach!

By JC Heinen on June 21, 2012

When do you manage your team, when do you coach them?  It’s important to know the difference and to be astute enough to know what’s needed, when and for whom.  In her Forbes article, “Know When to Manage and When to Coach,” Holly Green offers the following definitions: “Managing is all about telling, directing, authority, immediate needs, and a specific outcome. Coaching involves exploring, facilitating, partnership, long-term improvement, and many possible outcomes.” However, Green asserts that most employees “will need a combination of styles depending on the complexity of the task assigned, their experience with the task, and the competency levels required to complete it with excellence.”

Do you spend more time directing or coaching?  What impact is your leadership style having at the team and/or individual level?   There is a lot at stake.  Without coaching, the leader will find it difficult to sustain long-term success with no one prepared to assume responsibility for more complex roles.

High performing employees respond much more positively to less “command and control” management, eager to take on more responsibility, make decisions and contribute in more meaningful ways.  Micromanaging often leads to employees who feel marginalized and underutilized, leading to dissatisfaction, lower levels of productivity and turnover.

Effective managing ensures short-term business goals are achieved.  This sets the stage for coaching and mentoring so that you are helping your team develop the competencies needed for long-term organizational and individual goals.

4 Responses to “Don’t Just Manage — Coach!”

  1. Barry Horne

    Thanks JC,

    The question of whether one applies directing or coaching approaches relates strongly to the Goleman, Boyatizs and McKee leadership repertoire frame of reference [Primal Leadership]. They identified four resonant leadership styles (visionary, coaching, affiliative, democratic) and two dissonant leadership styles (commanding and pacesetting – to be applied with caution).



  2. Mónica Morales

    Thank you for theses differences between managing and coaching. I agree with this article. Depending of the mature of the employee (experience, know-how, etc,), its important to apply a different leadership style. From my point of view all the techniques which can help employees with their development are more stable, and effective in a long term.

  3. Jeff Meyer

    Good article JC!

    I like the article. There is a time for managing and time for coaching /mentoring. Great leaders know the difference but really great leaders know how to influence behavior at all levels. They have strong visionary and communication skills capable of understanding the individual, teams and organizations behaviors and values in order to achieve success. They are also willing to share the leadership role with sub-leaders who are capable of accomplishing shared objectives combined with unselfish commitment to the larger success of everyone. It isn’t about them.


  4. Lee Hecht Harrison

    Barry, Monica and Jeff,

    Thanks for your comments! Developing talent – and specifically developing leaders – is a strategic imperative. As research tells us, the leader’s ability to coach and mentor has a significant impact on key metrics, like engagement, retention and productivity. There are many behaviors that drive effective leadership. And in our experience, the most successful managers are those who are interested in not just assigning tasks – but empowering – and then making sure employees are recognized for their efforts. Influence and success are not finite commodities. We want to create environments where everyone flourishes. Appreciate your contributions on the topic and hope to hear more from each of you.


Leave a Reply