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Leadership & Management

What is a Management Style, and Where Does Coaching Fit in?

Written by Paddy Ryan, Business Coaching Skills and Leadership & Management subject matter expert at UCD Professional Academy

I started this piece (in my head) as a discussion about the benefits that a manager can get from coaching as a management style and how it adds to the whole manager-team member relationship, problem solving, and enhanced performance. Then it struck me: that some people don’t know what a management style is, first and foremost. 

As managers, we each adopt a ‘style’, or if we are really clever, ‘styles’ (multiple), to get the job done. Some of us prefer a “Tell” style, which lets our people know what we expect and how we expect it to be done.

Some of us like a “Discuss” style, where we know what we want, and we look for our people to talk with us so they understand what we want them to do.  If we are lucky with this, it may allow room to hear some new ideas which we might consider for the future, but we still want to get the task or project done and completed in the rehearsed, ‘best’ way.  

Sometimes our style is one where we tell, or discuss, but in a “Friendly” way or a “Paternal” way. Each are styles of dealing with our people. Each results in some level of performance, and our people get used to us as managers. They become accustomed to how we do it, and most go along with it.

A “Coaching” style, on the other hand, is different. According to the gurus of Coaching Management, this style can improve our performance by as much as 60% (Whitmore et al). So, what is different about coaching? Why isn’t everyone doing this? There are a few things to consider.

For many, there is the anxiety brought about by doing something new and different with our people. Will they think we are not in control? Will they react well and continue to do as we need them to do? Will they come up with a new way to do what they do, making it look like we didn’t know what we were doing and now we’ve gone soft? All genuine fears; mostly groundless.

As a manager, adopting a “Coaching style” allows us to do things differently, with confidence.  We look at our people who have ideas, new ways of looking at things, and ask them questions, listen to them, ask them to develop their ideas; agree the way forward; ask them to plan their actions, and include a review of their success as part of the planning. When we review their success, it doesn’t stop: the review allows us to celebrate the success, make the solutions concrete and ask, “What’s next?” 

The benefits become obvious over time. The team member doing the task owns the result (their idea; their plan), and therefore, works hard to be successful. As the manager, you get to applaud their success. Now, instead of trying to do the job itself, you, as the manager, have time to manage rather than do the task assigned to their subordinate. You win time! New ideas can be tested and, if successful, adopted. The trust level between manager and team members increases. They get to develop new skills, and problem solving becomes a joint effort, not the scourge of the manager.

As a manager, it is important to evaluate various management styles. As the world around us evolves, so too do workforces, and recognising the power of coaching as a management style should not be underestimated.

Want to learn more about coaching as a manager? Watch our recent webinar with Paddy here, or check out our Business Coaching Skills course below.

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