“As a Mentor and a Coach, I will help you to go,
professionally, where you deserve to be.”

Manager AND a Coach ?

04/04/2017 by gdufourconsulting

Manager as a Coach.

Can a Leader be a Coach?



“You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him discover it within himself” Galileo Galilei



Gonzague E Dufour

J&G Consulting

Columbia University Certified Executive and Organizational Coach and HR consultant.

Abstract: The overall purpose of this paper is to research how best to enable managers to utilize coaching competencies and frameworks. While a manager’s role is broad and includes several skills sets, the coaching skillset can enhance overall management effectiveness. One of the priorities of the Corporate Leaders is to equip Managers with new skills and competencies that will aid in accelerating the organization’s adaptation to the fast changing environment and to stay competitive. Based on recent literature and practice in many organizations, “the Coaching Skillset” is now a “Must,” making the training of managers a big necessity if possible.

Table of content:



Review of Selected Literature.


The need.

Can a Manager be a Coach?





Coaching, Manager, Manager as a Coach, Organization development, leaders, leadership, productivity, performance coaching, player coach




Should a Manager become a coach and can he act as a Coach?

As demonstrated by the increasing number of articles and researches, as well as by the increasing number of Corporations designing “Manager as a Coach” type programs, this question is really important. Organizations are becoming more and more complicated and less and less hierarchical, more and more matrix designed and less and less one direct reporting line. In addition, for the first time in organizations 5 generations co-habit making the role of the manager even more complicated. Finally headcount reduction forces the manager to “multitask” and delegate more often.  Some are even speaking about “Bosslessness Organization” in Silicon Valley. No doubt there is an evident need to transform the manager into a coach. A new type of leader is born, he will combine the skills of the “historical manager” controlling, supervising with new skills like: being “present”, questioning, listening and reflecting. Are there any contradiction and irreconcilable differences between the role of a Manager and the skills mastered by a Coach?

It looks like the “can” is not an option; it is a must, “How”? is now the question.

How to develop in a Manager the skills and mindset which will help him to be effective in a changing and more open world, in new corporate structures culturally challenged, in a “do more with less” environment and last but not least in places where 5 generations are together with different communication style, work ethics and values, interaction and leadership styles.

Reviewing literature, business examples will help to answer these questions. Then we will define the roles and skills required by both a manager and a coach. I will explore if realistically they can be both mastered by one individual;

This paper may help Executive, HR Leaders, Professional Coaches to understand the importance, urgency to help Manager to become a Coach.






Review of Selected Literature

The Tao of Coaching, Max Landsberg. Profile Books 1996

What is management Coaching ?, Gilbert Manda.

Understanding the theory and design of Organizations, Richard L Daft first edition 2007

The manager as a coach as a driver of organizational development, Richard K Ladyshewsky

Coaching and the art of management, Roger D Evered, James C Selman.

Manager as Coach: Tools for Teaching, Jill Geisler.

Manager as Coach, Gerry W Gilley, Ann Maycunich Glley.

The view of the manager as coach and as creator of culture for a coaching culture is a new paradigm. Roger D Evered

Coaching for Performance, John Whitmore Nb 1992

2008 Best in Leadership Practices, Leadership Excellence www.LeaderExcel.com

Cultural Competence in Leadership Coaching: what coaches need to know. By Terrence E. Maltbia EEd, MA, BSc & David Matthew Prior, MBA, MCC (USA), Choice  Magazine

“The Leadership Machine” 2002 M.Lombardo, R.Eichinger:

“Working with Emotional intelligence” Daniel Goleman, Bantam Book, 1998


My research was triggered by a training program designed in a company I worked for, which decided to develop an internal program titled “Manager as a Coach”. Even if the concept was not new, I had the opportunity to work on and to ask myself the question: “can and should a manager be a coach?”.

The key words I used were: Coaching, Manager, Manager as a Coach, Organization development, Leaders, Leadership, performance Coaching.

My research was a combination of feedback I received when delivering the training “Manager as a Coach”, interviews, discussions, shared experiences, and reading.

I interviewed HR Leaders from large, global companies who have developed a “Manager as a Coach” training program.

During the interviews, the questions where:

  • Are there any differences between a Manager and a Coach? and, if so what are they?
  • Can a Manager be a Coach?
  • Why did you develop the “Manager as a Coach” training program?
  • What will this program bring to your organization?
  • Are different skills required?

But before answering the big questions it will be useful to find some definitions:



Manager/ Managing:

  • A person responsible for controlling or administering all or part of a company or similar organization (Oxford dictionary)
  • Henri Fayol (1841–1925)[4] considers management to consist of six functions:
  1. Forecasting
  2. Planning
  3. Organizing
  4. Commanding
  5. Coordinating
  6. Controlling



Coach/ Coaching :


  • Partnering with clients in a thought provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. (ICF)


  • A development process that builds a leader’s capabilities to achieve professional and organizational goals. (Graduate School Alliance of Executive coaching program.)


  • My preferred definition comes from Arsene Wenger, Coach of the Arsenal soccer team:

“I am just assisting people, I just help them to express the good and great they have inside themselves. I didn’t create anything; I am just revealing the skills everyone has inside him or herself. I am a positive person. My permanent fight in my job is to get the best out of each one.”



Comparing the different definitions above, there is a large gap and many differences between the Manager and the Manager as Coach; this is even exemplified by the comparison below between the Traditional Manager and Manager as Coach:










“Manager as Coach” the new way to get results, Jenny Rogers. McGraw Hill 2012


Difference between a traditional manager and a manager as coach
Traditional Manager Manager as Coach
Belief about my role -Power comes with the job

-More seniority means more stress.

-Decisiveness is  important.

-I protect my staff by telling them what to do.

-I add value by giving direction

-I have to earn authority

-Sharing responsibility reduces stress.

-My staff is intrinsically resourceful.

-I encourage prudent risk-taking.

-I add value by developing my people.

I am good at -Giving instruction.

-Clarifying and analyzing problem.

-Offering people my solution.

-Creating momentum and urgency.

-Listening without judging too soon.

-Facilitating other ‘s people thinking.

-Challenging people’s self-imposed barriers.

-Offering feedback.

-Holding people accountable for jointly made decision.

I dread -My staff getting something wrong.

Expressing uncertainty.

-Admitting mistakes.

-Avoiding opportunity for feedback.

-Undermining my staff by doing their thinking for them.

-Showing off how experience I am.

Enjoyment in my role comes from. -Pleasure in my status. -Seeing my staff develop.




As we can see the gap between a traditional manager, the “teller” and a “Coach” the “listener” is large. Should large corporations address the gap between the Manager and the “Manager as a Coach”, is there a real need for or is it just the “flavor of the month”?

And if the need is real and vital for the future we should examine how this can be implemented.

The challenge is probably not transforming a Manager in a Coach but asking a Manager to add an other dimension to his /her role. To what degree must a manager alter his mindset to effectively coach an employee? Can this change in mindset be temporary? Can the contract between manager and employee be temporarily changed during a coaching conversation? I think it can. What are the differences in the in the process of a coaching session versus a delegation conversation .


The need

– The “X” company confirms the need“… In a global economy filled with unprecedented opportunities, as well as intense competition and complexity, coaching is one of the best ways to support, manage and accelerate sustainable organization change- one person at a time…”

This is clearly expressed in the frame below, which summarizes

“X” company Coaching Strategy


Opportunity to raise Organization’s performance by increasing transition and development coaching
         type Performance coaching Transition coaching Accelerated development coaching Mentoring
Purpose ? Improve performances Ensure successful transition Accelerate development and increase readiness for next assignment Explore career directions, develop specific functional skills and decipher organization dynamics
Who should get coached ? All employees New in key leadership job or leadership assignment Per “X” talent pool criteria All employees
Who are the most appropriate coaches ? Direct managers External/internal coaches followed by direct managers External/internal coaches, followed by direct managers Higher managements or functional skills experts
Time for impact Mostly near term Mostly near term Mostly mid/ long term Mostly long term
Exception Performances coaching buy external/internal coaches (red flag) External mentors for senior management
More structured to                                                                                                                              less


Easier to orchestrate to                                                                                                                     harder to

Quicker to impact                                                                                                                                to slower




Reading in the document that the “most appropriate coaches “are the Direct Managers is clearly a further invitation to find out if the Manager could and should be a coach.

– Walter Chen the founder and CEO of “iDone This” a successful start up in Silicon valley, says “finding balance between freedom and responsibility requires finding people who bring that balance at the table. The challenge, then, is to engage people who are both autonomous and collaborative, who can make and manage comfortably and are willing to learn how to do them both well”.

Extreme example but clearly the profile those companies are looking for are clearly closer to a Coach profile than a Manager profile. Indeed we can recognize in the description of the “New Leaders” made by Walter Chen the Core Coaching Competency developed by CCCP (Columbia Coaching certification program), and among the 9: Relating, Presence, Questioning, Listening, Contributing and Business Acumen.

An other reason why a manager should be more a Coach is the Cultural environment and the 5 generations working together for the first time with so different expectations.  As clearly demonstrated in the survey result run by Price Waterhouse Cooper in 2011. The 4th generation is the generation “Y” the fifth is the one born after 1994 which actually joins the Corporate world as “Intern”.





Baby boomer


Generation X

1965- 1977

GenerationY (Millenials)

1978- 1994

Work ethic and values Hard work

Respect authority


Duty before fun

Adhere to rules


Work efficiency

Crusading causes

Personal fulfillment

Desire quality

Questions authority

Eliminate the task


Want structure and direction


What’s next





Goal oriented

Work is An obligation An exciting adventure A difficult challenge

A contract

A means to an end


Leadership styles Directive

Command and control



Everyone is the same

Challenge others

Ask why

Interaction styles individual Team player

Loves to have meeting

entrepreneur participation
Communication Formal memo In person Direct




Feedback and rewards No news good news

Satisfaction is a job well done

Don’t appreciate it


Title recognition

Sorry to interrupt but how am I doing ?

Freedom is the best rewards

Whenever I want it, at the push of the button.

Meaningful work

Messages that motivate Your experience is respected You are valued

You are needed

Do it your way forget the rules You will work with either bright, creative people
Work and family life Never the two shall meet No balance Balance balance

Reading the chart we see that a traditional Leaders as described in the first column will have to exercise a lot of the Coaching skills and among others, Listening at level 3, Questioning, Reflecting, leveraging diversity, Testing assumption and Leveraging diversity if they want to manage a generation “Y” for which “Participation” is the interactive style when the traditionalist is more an “individualist” .

An other example, if we take the values, just comparing the Traditionalist to the Generation Y, the first one is a hard worker, respects authority, make sacrifice and put duty before fun and adhere to rules. The generation Y born between 1978 and 1994 is multitasking, asking “what’s next”, entrepreneurial and goal oriented. It is difficult to understand and accept each other.

-Terrence E. Maltbia stated in his paper on “Cultural Competence in leadership Coaching: What Coaches Need to Know” that the Manager needs to develop coaching skills and her/ his “Capacity for Coaching across cultures”.  The expertise on Cultural differences stay with the Professional Coach but the Manager cannot ignore that new skill: “coaching across cultures.”


– We can also find among the “10 best Leadership Practices” -2008 Best in Leadership Practices by Leadership Excellence, that “Coaching and Mentoring” is one of the key competencies a Leader must acquire.


– AT&T changed their leaders title from “manager: to “coach”.

– “Coaching are a vital part of every leader’s toolkit” Anthony M.Grant

– “Managers need to understand how to operate as a MAC (Manager As a Coach) to elevate organizational performance.” Richard Ladyshewsky.

– “Teach your leaders to be coach-like” Ken Blanchard

Acceleration of Organization Change, more delegation, new cultural environment, 5 generations working together, elevate organizational performance, develop new talents in organization; In that context the Traditional Managers must adapt and change and has to master the competencies demonstrated by a Coach, can they do it ?

Can a manager be a coach?

But it seems that the question has to be put differently: “to what degree must a manager alter his mindset to effectively coach an employee? Can this change in mindset be temporary? Can the contract between manager and employee be temporarily changed during a coaching conversation?”

Aida Warah, PhD in clinical Psychology, Psychology Professor in the University of Ontario Canada “Manager as coach” says the same. “We are convinced from our work that a management paradigm based on building an organizational context for “Coaching” can readily outperform the existing management paradigm based on “Control”. The key is to let go of the “managing equals controlling” mindset and take on a “managing equals creating a context for coaching” orientation.

Daniel Goleman speaks about:” Leaders need many styles” Goleman Leadership that gets results..

John Whitmor: “Coaching for Performance” nb 1992 says: “Coaching provides the manager with real not illusory control, and provides the subordinate with real not illusory responsibility”.

Dr Anne Power, told me “Coaching is not a branch or style of management, it is the art of management”.

As we saw earlier there is a need to develop the “Manager as a Coach” but we also understand that Manager as a Coach does not mean either or but most likely as John Whitmore says “Managers manage by the principles of Coaching”.

“If time is the predominant criterion in a situation, doing the job yourself or telling someone else exactly what to do will probably the fastest way.

If the quality of the results matters the most, coaching for high awareness and responsibility is likely to deliver the most.

If maximize the learning is predominant, clearly coaching will optimize learning and its retention.”

Yes the Manager should be a coach but can the same Manager manage when the situation requires fast execution and Coach when learning, development, delegation are the name of the game ?

The answer to the “How “to develop a manager is embedded in this answer.


At that stage we could agree that there is a need as well as a benefit for organization to develop Manager/ Coach in there organizations. The next and last question is what has to be  developed to help managers to become a Manager and a Coach and being able to adjust their leadership style to the situation?

I would like here to refer to the Columbia Coaching model and the “Success Pyramid”. If a Manager can acquire the following Competency: Questioning, Listening and Reflecting his/her Coaching presence will allow him/ her to become a Manager and a Coach and most likely a much more effective manager.

Comparing these competencies to the Goldman’s Emotional Social competence we can see a clear alignment and from my perspective, that is the challenge develop the coaching competency in a manager.

Coach Columbia Coaching model Emotional Social competence Daniel Goleman
Relating (ICF# 3&8)

Coaching presence(ICF# 4)

Leveraing diversity

Questioning (ICF# 6)

Listening (ICF# 5)

Testing Assumption (ICF# 8)

Reframing(ICF# 8)

Contributing (ICF# 7-9)

Business Acumen (ICF# 8-11).


Understanding others.

Developing others

Service orientation

Leveraging diversity

Political awareness



Conflict management


Change catalyst

Building bonds

Collaboration and cooperation

Team capability



 According to the Co-Active model and philosophy: “People are naturally Creative, Resourceful, and Whole. We start with this assertion: people are, by their very nature, creative, resourceful and whole. They are capable: capable of finding answers; capable of choosing; capable of taking action; capable of recovering when things don’t go as planned; and, especially, capable of learning. This capacity is wired into all human beings no matter their circumstances. In the Co-Active Coaching model, it is more than a belief- it is a stand we take”

And as the Columbia Coaching Model has been designed to unleash the Power of Human potential;


Therefore by adapting to the Learning Style of the Managers , by Coaching the Managers to become a coach by developing a training program inspired by the Columbia Coaching approach and by helping the Managers to master the process and the required competencies that will be possible .


The Benefit of a well developed “Coaching Culture” as described by John Whitmore “ Coaching for Performance” nb, 2009 will be:



  • Improved performance and productivity.
  • Staff development. improved learning.
  • Improved relationships.
  • Improved learning.
  • Improved quality of life for individuals.
  • More time for the Manager.
  • More creative ideas.
  • Better use of people, , skills, resources.
  • Faster and more effective emergency response.
  • Greater flexibility and adaptability to change.
  • More motivated staff.
  • Culture change.
  • A life skill.


and less people turnover.



Summary of Major Findings

The Managers should not become Coaches they will have to add new skills to their “personal competency portfolio” and use them when appropriate.

  • Manager as a Coach is not the “flavor of the month” there is a real need for organizations to develop manager as a coach.

The Manager is more of a teller, a controller and coordinator, the Coach is more of a delegator and partner facilitating his/her reports’ their full potential development. In organizations today it appears that there is a need for the listeners and facilitators, for coaches and as described in different training program and literature, a need for Manager as a Coach. Constant change in organization due a fast moving environment requires from the leaders in organization, flexibility, adaptability and leadership. For the first time ever, 5 generations are working together in organizations, the expectation and motivation of the Traditionalists, Baby boomer, generation X, Y and “Z” are so different hat the Managers have to become active listeners with strong presence.

Yes there is a need for organization to develop “manager as a Coach”.

  • The need is the results of major changes in the environment.

The need is the result of different factors pushing the Traditional manager to adopt a new attitude. Those factors are, delayering of organizations and headcount reduction making delegation more important than ever, the famous “do more with less.”.

  • The Benefit:

Manager as a Coach will keep the workforce motivated and engaged; by listening he/she will retain the employees in their organization, limiting the headcount turnover and as a consequence a sustainable profitability will be granted.

Organization will become much more flexible, not mentioning the “Bosselessness organization” a new innovative for the start up in Silicon Valley. Looking closer to the concept these organizations are very close to managing themselves by the principles of coaching



  • Manager should acquire coaching competency if they can.

As a consequence the traditional manager will have to acquire a new set of competencies and for examples the ones developed in the “Success pyramid” created in the Columbia  Coaching model. These competencies are Relating, Questioning, Listening and Coaching presence.

If we agree that an organization has a life cycle which ends with maturity and decline, “Coach like profile” will be needed to rejuvenate and give a new dynamic to these declining organizations.

Change management and coaching. The Manager, who can acquires the skills to become in addition a Coach when the situation requires it, is the best agent ever to facilitate the  change and transformation.

J&G Consulting is highly qualified and can help assessing the potential of managers to acquire the coaching skills and to build a process to embed them in the company culture.





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

× 8 = seventy two