In a recent article published by Forbes, Verne Harnish sloppily predicts that in 2016 the term “manager” should be discarded. All companies should replace the role of manager with the role of “coach.” What rubbish. As evidence he cites only one example- that Zappos does so. Ignore this article because it is sloppy and inaccurate. Why confuse the marketplace or denigrate both roles?
Managers should manage; coaches should coach.
We need consistent terms for “managers” and “coaches” for at least these 3 reasons.
- Managers by definition need to maximize the productivity of others. Some hierarchy is mandatory, because the manager’s job requires writing a performance review and determining compensation. Read Peter Drucker, called the father of organizational development, on this point. The idea of maximizing productivity is as old as Diomedes. And as new as Marcus Buckingham. The role requires that managers work in private to coach others, but that skill of coaching should never replace the role of coaching. Perhaps the best model for describing the complex role of managers is Henry Mintzberg’s Managing (2011), which should be required reading for any serious managers, or any student of management theory and practice.
- Coaches, by definition, support others to achieve their personal and professional goals. The agenda is defined by the client/leader, not by a coach or anyone else. The process of coaching varies, from a competency approach defined by the International Coaching Federation to a theoretical construct such as positive psychology (the best example is here). In executive coaching, there is a validated need for both internal coaches who expedite the careers of HiPos, and external coaches who provide customized leadership development for senior leaders. None of these coaches are managers. However, managers are often tasked with coaching their direct reports. See point 1.
- Confusion abounds in many learning organizations, especially those that are dominated by fear. We do not need any sloppy terminology. Coaching was once an activity designed to remediate some undesirable behavior. Not any more. Coaching now is a targeted behavioral investment. For instance, I collaborate with internal leaders who provide succession planning data, performance reviews, 360 or personality assessments. As an external coach, my role is to accelerate the agenda of senior leaders. There is no better investment in top talent. Retention increases 18 months on average. For an example of the largest global provider of executive coaching, visit CoachSource. We provide scale for any-sized organization, in 45 countries, with over 1,000 expert executive coaches. Results should define your investments, not any silly claims.
Bottom line: Avoid sloppy terms. Call managers what they are. Call coaches what they are. Invest in talent development.
To learn more, call Doug Gray, PCC, at 615-905-1892 or schedule your complimentary, confidential session here .
What are you waiting for?