To coach or not to coach that is the question. An article in HBR written by Joseph R. Weintraub and James M. Hunt.
There are managers who coach and managers who don’t. Leaders in the latter category are not necessarily bad managers, but they are neglecting an effective tool to develop talent. We’ve been researching managers who coach and what distinguishes them. What has stood out in our interviews with hundreds of managers who do coach their direct reports is their mindset: They believe in the value of coaching, and they think about their role as a manager in a way that makes coaching a natural part of their managerial toolkit. These are not professional coaches. They are line and staff leaders who manage a group of individuals, and they are busy, hard-working people. So why do they so readily give coaching an important place in their schedule? Here are four reasons:
They see coaching as an essential tool for achieving business goals. They are not coaching their people because they are nice — they see personal involvement in the development of talent as an essential activity for business success. Most managers will tell you that they don’t have the time to coach. However, time isn’t a problem if you think coaching is a “must have” rather than a “nice to have.” Whether it’s because they are competing for talent, operating in a highly turbulent market place, trying to retain their budding leaders, or aiming to grow their solid players, they believe that they simply have to take the time to coach.
There are two assumptions behind this belief. First, that extremely talented people are hard to find and recruit. If you are known as a manager who will help those people thrive, they will gravitate to you. Second, that an organization cannot be successful on the backs of the extremely talented alone. You need solid players just as you need stars, and they will need a manager’s help to build skills and deal with the changing realities of their marketplace.
They enjoy helping people develop. These managers are not unlike artists who look at material and imagine that something better, more interesting, and more valuable could emerge. They assume that the people who work for them don’t necessarily show up ready to do the job, but that they will need to learn and grow to fulfill their role and adapt to changing circumstances. Coaching managers see this as an essential part of their job. They believe that those with the highest potential, who can often contribute the most to a business, will need their help to realize their often-lofty ambitions. As one manager told us recently, “Isn’t helping others to be more successful one of the key roles of a manager?”