Any person at any level in any organization with responsibility for getting things done through others must have skills in managing, leading and coaching. We are all clearly in the people business now. I believe we always have been, and it is even more obvious today as much of the work being done today is done by individuals and teams of people using their intellectual resources more than ever.
Over the years there have been many discussions about the difference between managing and leading and coaching has been added in the last few years. There have been many comments like managers manage things and leaders manage people and coaching isn?t mentioned. Or managers do things right and leaders do the right things. In an organizational setting you don?t get to be one or the other and have great success. We are all leaders in some segments of our life particularly if we are willing to accept that leadership is influence. We all do and say things that influence the behavior or others without even thinking about it or considering ourselves as leaders.
You could make a case that you can be a manager and have success to a certain level without being a leader or coach as well. In these cases, the manager is usually managing processes or systems that don?t require the engagement of a team to get solid results. However, people skills are always required to get the support needed in an organizational environment so even if you are managing things, processes, systems and such having some leadership skills might come in handy.
In today’s organizational environment the people that excel are going to need a solid combination of leadership, management and coaching skills. The ability to engage todays workforce is critical to organizational excellence and success. Every person with responsibility for getting things done through others will need the ability to understand and utilize processes, systems and procedures to create structures that support as opposed to inhibit getting things done. Its hard to lead or coach without a structure to provide guidance. Skilled leaders give people reasons to want to give their discretionary contribution to get something done and, in most cases, that something is getting done through a structure. Leading and managing work together.
Where does coaching fit in when you have responsibility for getting things done through others in an organizational setting? There are many definitions of coaching and ongoing discussions about how much of coaching is about asking versus telling. It really depends on the context. Coaching to get things done in an organizational setting has not been a topic of much conversation until the last two or three decades. Most of us had our first exposure to coaching relative to sports. In this context coaching was mostly about telling and in some cases looked more like training. Coaching in sports is still very much about telling but it has taken on a much broader supporting and encouraging characteristic in the last few years.
In many organizations today, there are coaches and they may be internal and part of the structure or external and engaged to support specific initiatives. The coaching in the context of an organizational setting and combined with managing and leading is becoming much more visible as the makeup of the workforce and the work itself has evolved. Effective organizational drivers must have a balance of management, leadership and coaching skills. They must be able to understand and optimize systems, processes and procedures while also mobilizing team members to want to struggle for shared aspirations. Underpinning al of this must be a clear understanding of themselves and their behavior as well as understanding human behavior broadly. They must be curious and interested in supporting other people?s ideas and changes to continually make the organization better. They must be able to ask great questions and follow up with question 2,3 and 4 or more.
The successful executive in the current organizational environment must clearly be a manager, leader and coach and be continually working at getting better at all three.