Jim Ryan

What’s the difference between managing and coaching? Are they the same thing? Aren’t coaches really managers who like sports analogies? No… Not even close.

Most of us recognize the need for managers, but if we’re honest, we don’t really like being managed.

This is especially true if being managed is really code for being micro-managed, or criticized, or fixed.  I don’t want to be scolded, condescended to or threatened. Yet those behaviors might sound familiar to you because this is still how many organizations approach managing their people.

How about performance reviews? Anybody love those? Well, maybe the high achiever, the boss’s ace who knows he or she will get nothing but praise. But for most of us, the performance review feels like the manager just arrived at the scene of a car wreck that was our fault.

Is this exaggerated? Am I just creating a “straw man”—or is there a nugget of truth about how managers work in your organization? There is little doubt that many companies today struggle to form that healthy relationship between manager and team member. What a tenuous connection this can be.

Perhaps it is time to move from managing to coaching.

Managing vs. Coaching

Of course, many people might still balk at the idea of being “coached,” especially if it’s like my high school coach who thought that the best way to correct mistakes was to yell at me and make me run laps. That sounds a lot like the managing described above.

So, what’s the difference between managing and coaching? Are they the same thing? Aren’t coaches really managers who like sports analogies? No. Not even close.

Managing is administrative (schedules, appointments, accounts). Managing is operational. Managing is transactional. Managing is governance. This is why few people want to be managed. But do they want to be coached? Do they want to be led? I think they do.

Think about the Olympic athletes who rely on their coaches to help them push through both internal and external barriers to not just achieve world-class performance but also to make real on their promise, to deliver their personal best. Coaching is personal. It’s relational.

Coaching is leading. It’s inspiring. Coaching looks forward and backward. It’s not only reviewing the tape; it’s installing the game plan. It’s practicing the game plan, and it’s “repping.” Coaching is intentional.

Here’s what coaching also is. It’s believing in people, perhaps even more than they believe in themselves. It’s seeing their potential, building them up, encouraging, empowering, equipping, and caring. It’s helping people unleash the potential and the achievement drive within them.  It is guiding them to discover for themselves just how good they can be.

If this is coaching….who wouldn’t want to be coached?

Try turning a manager into a coach this way and see what happens. Once your team member understands how coaching can improve his or her career and life, the entire manager-team member relationship will be changed forever and for the better.

By the same token, if this is coaching, who wouldn’t want to be the coach? Who doesn’t want to enrich the lives of others? If I, as a manager, can truly empower someone to reach a level of performance even they did not think was possible—to put my fingerprints on their success and leave a legacy in their life—what a great privilege! What a joy!

What a difference managers who coach can make…

About the Author
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Jim Ryan

As a valued Business Affiliate of Integrity Solutions, Jim is certified to deliver multiple Integrity Solutions training programs and is consistently sought after by our clients to conduct their training workshops. He uses the congruence of knowledge, skills, and experiences to bring a unique perspective to the world of sales training, sales coaching, and leadership development. Jim has also been a keynote speaker and had a 10-year career as an NFL linebacker for the Denver Broncos before also having several professional football coaching roles. He lives in the Nashville, TN area.
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