How the Best Managers are Really Coaches

Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them.

                                – Timothy Gallwey

Looking back on our childhood, most people remember at least one mentor or coach who said or did something that really made an impact on their lives. Whether it was a tweak to our baseball swing, an encouraging word when the odds weren’t looking good, or just making the team feel like a real family, great coaches and mentors somehow managed to bring out the best in everyone. Some of the best coaches are doing more than winning games; they are building a strong community.  

It isn’t surprising then that many of the most successful managers also incorporate a number of coaching techniques into their communication strategies. Often the best people to work for are those who build workplace collaboration, bring everyone together, and most importantly, really care about their employees. In fact, the main factor that separates great managers from average ones is their ability to coach.

Let’s Communicate Out There, Team

A high level of communication between coaches and players, and between teammates, is a key component in building a successful team. The same is true with managers and their employees. This can mean anything from delegating some of the leadership tasks to veteran employees or simply facilitating more interdepartmental collaboration.


Co-workers who have a greater ability to communicate ideas among each other are more likely to develop unique and innovative methods of completing tasks. Furthermore, the right amount of unstructured communication can boost employee happiness and even productivity. Just take a look at Google’s management strategy for proof that the technique works well.

All for One…

During any team’s first practice, coaches are tasked with the job of placing players where they feel they will have the most to offer the entire team. Furthermore, they must bring everyone from a variety of different backgrounds and experiences together to work as one unit. Again, managers frequently find themselves in the same type of position centered around focusing a random group of people with a number of differing skills on one primary goal.

One of the most significant ways in which to build team spirit in your employees is through a positive management outlook. It may come as somewhat of a surprise, but the manager’s day-to-day attitude about the company and tasks associated with the job are some of the most influential parts of team morale. Be sure to celebrate the positives as a team and work through the negatives with a smile.

… And One for All

Finally, some of the coaches with the most impact are those who go far above and beyond the requirements of their jobs. They become emotionally invested in the well-being of their players and always strive for them to be successful both on and off the field. These coaches have strong connections with their players and have earned trust based upon their actions.

In the management world, building trust with employees and becoming invested in their lives is a profound way in which to build a strong team. Employees who know their managers have their backs are more likely to take beneficial risks and share new ideas to better the company. Listening and displaying a high level of emotional intelligence can help. In addition, always work to be empathetic toward situations that come up and understand that your employees have lives outside of work.  


Coaching and management go hand-in-hand. Taking time to understand how you can coach your employees rather than manage them is a great way to improve both relationships and ultimately productivity. Working toward greater communication, teamwork, and getting to know employees is a great start.


Brittni Brown is a recent graduate of The College of Idaho; she currently works for a local marketing startup. In her free time, she enjoys a variety of outdoor activities as well as reading and trivia.

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