Leadership Tips  

Shifting from Manager to “Leader as Coach” Mindset

Shifting from Manager to “Leader as Coach” Mindset

Organizations with strong coaching cultures consistently report higher employee engagement and revenue.A When leaders embrace the “leader as coach” concept, the cascading effects can ignite their teams to take ownership of their work and careers. In fact, executives overwhelmingly feel the most urgent problem they face is inspiring leaders to coach employees.B In turn, 93% of leaders feel they need training on how to effectively do this.C

Shifting a leader’s style from managing workloads to coaching employees takes thoughtful efforts by both the leader and the organization. Here’s how to make the “leader as coach” mindset happen.

Get to know team members on a personal level.

Great coaches build relationships that make individuals feel valued and understood. They take the time to evaluate strengths, provide ongoing guidance, and connect on a level that builds trust. “In order to achieve this, you must genuinely know your team to tap into their strengths and understand how to best support them,” shares Lynn Maloney, VP of People Solutions at IMPACT Group.

However, focusing on efficiency might keep you from investing time in the relationship. “It’s proven that stronger relationships deliver higher engagement and commitment in company success,” Lynn shares. “Engagement is a huge competitive advantage for your company.” In fact, engaged employees are:

  • 38% more likely to have above average performance
  • 65% more likely to recommend their company’s product
  • Take 3.5 fewer sick days per year on average
  • 87% less likely to leave the organizationD

Knowing your team members as individuals enables you to intersect their interests with organizational needs. In our leadership development programs, we refer to this as connecting role to goal. “Coaches analyze their team to determine where strengths can best be utilized,” comments Lynn. “As leaders, make this an ongoing practice by recognizing each person’s abilities and aligning them with the right projects.” When someone clearly understands how their role fits into the bigger picture and has a direct impact on meeting company goals, they see themselves as vital to organizational success. This is empowering.

Career Coaching Case Study, IMPACT Group


Inspire talent to find the answers.

Seventy percent (70%) of employee learning and development happens on the job, not through formal training programs.E A leader who provides opportunities for on-the-job learning (beyond project oversight) positively impacts the employee’s ability to problem solve, lead projects, and grow in their role. “If an employee looks to you to solve a problem, switch the conversation to help them think through the scenario,” Lynn suggests. “Ask inquisitive questions. In addition, prompt them to come up with a few of their own solutions.”

Overtime, your commitment to coaching will enable employees to develop new ways of thinking. “Make time for just-in-time feedback. Create open dialogue so you and your team can address needs in the moment and share constructive feedback. This is what will create valuable teachable moments.” Leveraging these moments has the power to unleash engagement and productivity while strengthening the employee’s skillset.

Walk alongside their learning efforts.

Consider scheduling regular one-on-one’s to specifically discuss the individual’s challenges, career desires, and development needs. In a survey of 700 workers on top factors that cause a bad day at work, the number one concern was “a lack of help and support from my boss” (40%).F When you know the direction your employee wants his/her role or career to go, you’re primed to provide the support and coaching they desire.

When an employee expresses an area to develop, clarify the end goal together then create positive steps forward. This builds accountability for the employee throughout the process, and accountability is a great trait of any coach. “Your reinforcement might include feedback exercise and even role playing scenarios. Offering continuous learning activities like these leads to continuous growth,” Lynn points out.

As a leader, you’re in the perfect spot to have a lasting impact on your team members. The benefits of coaching are numerous, including:

  • Building stronger bonds between you and your team members.
  • Supporting team members in taking ownership over their own learning.
  • Helping individuals develop the skills they need to perform at their peak.E

View yourself as a people developer to start making the coaching mind shift! Our Existing Leaders framework leverages six key strategies to create a high-engagement workplace and advance your organization’s competitive advantage. Discover how it will transform your leaders today!

A How to Turn Managers into Coaches, Cornerstone Demand
B 6 Ways to Turn Managers into Coaches Again, HBR.com
C Survey: 93% of Managers Need Training on Coaching Employees, Globoforce.com
D Madison Performance Group & Corporate Leadership Council
E You Can’t Be a Great Manager if You’re Not a Good Coach, Harvard Business Review
F Study: Bad Word Days – How Common Are They and What Makes Them Bad?, Woohoo Inc.

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