Taking a coaching approach to management

Traditional managers tend to focus purely on performance and timely deliverables, neglecting the individual’s potential, and consequently, suppressing the inner drive of the employee to improve


The role of managers in modern-day organisations has changed. They manage in complex environments and highly-competitive markets. These are significant pressures on ongoing peak performance, and the expectation is that managers will adapt to constant changes and adjustments to new market forces. Managers are expected to increase the organisation’s competitive advantage through increased profitability, productivity improvements, employee engagement and better customer service. This is observable in the widely integrated Balanced Scorecard1, a framework for building and communicating strategy, where managers are required to extend their focus beyond financial performance. Balancing all can be challenging and calls for a much broader and innovative approach to meet the expectations.

Traditional managers are people of unquestionable authority and power, purely focused on performance, ensuring that work is done in a timely and proper manner. This approach neglects the individual’s potential and consequently suppresses the inner drive of the employees to improve. COVID-19 only acted as a catalyst. Managers have increasingly asked themselves how to unlock the potential of each employee, seeking to understand what makes an individual perform better, or how to get the best out of a team.

The progressive managers understand the shift in the workplace and the difference between employees being motivated to work, and employees being controlled and ‘bossed around’. While there is a significant shift in management styles and focus, managers still need to meet objectives and targets, and employees still need to perform. Many of today’s managers involve employees in the problem-solving and decision-making processes, creating an environment for personal development. This collaborative approach is conducive to the application of coaching methodologies.

The rise of managers who use coaching skills is evident in the 2020 ICF Global Coaching Study2. The study reports an increase of 46 per cent in the number of managers and leaders using coaching skills in 2019, compared to 2015. Organisations with a well-developed coaching culture encourage managers to empower themselves with coaching skills, making a shift from directing towards a coaching conversation.

As the benefits of coaching in the workplace become more evident, there is a growing demand for leaders to use coaching skills with their employees. However, it is unknown how much training support managers receive to meet this increased demand. Research shows that organisations could benefit from supporting managers with tailored coach training that develops a clear coaching leadership style.

It goes without saying that employees will perform better if they feel they are valued and appreciated. Managers who take an interest in their employees are in a better position to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses and are more able to provide the development opportunities that best meet the employees’ needs. It would be hard to imagine how managers can sustain expectations for ongoing peak performance, and the ability to adapt to ongoing changes and adjustments to market forces on their own. The only way is to engage and take the entire team on the journey.

Managers will only be successful if they can influence employees to commit to the organisation’s vision, connecting the organisation’s vision and the employees’ values. Research shows that managers using coaching skills are one step ahead of others. Should they wish to improve their competitive advantage further, organisations have a good reason to invest in training their managers as coaches.

Want to invest in your managers? Take the first step — experience coaching for yourself!

The International Coaching Federation (ICF) is the world’s largest organisation leading the global advancement of the coaching profession and fostering coaching’s role as an integral part of a thriving society. Founded in 1995, its 35,000-plus members located in more than 140 countries and territories work toward common goals of enhancing awareness of coaching and upholding the integrity of the profession through lifelong learning and maintaing the highest ethical standards. Through the work of its six unique family organisations, ICF empowers professional coaches, coaching clients, organisations, communities and the world through coaching. Visit coachingfederation.org for more information.

In India, ICF is represented by six vibrant chapters, all led by volunteers — ICF Bengaluru, ICF Chennai, ICF Delhi NCR, ICF Hyderabad, ICF Mumbai, and ICF Pune.

The authors, Slaven Drinovac, PCC, is a coaching business owner, an academic and the current president of ICF Australasia – Queensland. His passion for coaching started while he was working in the finance sector. He developed an evidence-based coaching philosophy, which manifested in his role as director of training at the Australian College of Applied Psychology. MindHous was born from Slaven’s passion for leveraging the power of coaching to enable individuals, businesses and communities to shape their own futures. The Australian Business Journal has named Slaven as one of the top twenty Australian leadership experts and coaches to watch out for in 2021.

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