Why managers should manage, and coaches should coach

wrong way stop and take a uturn making a mistake turn back now bad direction graffiti on red brick wall, text and hand

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.


  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  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?


Why Coaching can never be a commodity

I just got off a peer coaching call with a man I have never met.

Yet for 3 years we have held each other accountable to our dreams, goals, and visions.  He is my peer coach.

We agreed that coaching can never be a commodity because:

1.  Coaching is an interactive process.  We exchange all that is human.  We interrupt.  We rant.  We share evidence-based wisdom.  We guarantee results.

2.  Commodities have no emotions.  And people do.  You can buy consultative video coaching snippets.  You can buy self coaching units.  And you can buy junk food.  Those commodities are worthless.

One goal of coaching is to enable people to garner their emotional strength into constructive action.

We KNOW that emotions drive thoughts.  And thoughts drive actions.  We even know what portions of the brain, and what neuro-chemical triggers are involved.  So why would anyone even consider that coaching can be a commodity?

I am not threatened by the commoditization of coaching services.

However, I am disappointed by the distrust and fear that some people have that prevents them from asking for help.

Give me a call.  Let’s talk about what you are feeling and thinking and doing.

WTF Coaching

WTF stands for “what the f____”     It’s a swear word.   You should know that.

I swear by this:  WTF stands for “What’s The Focus?”

When you FOCUS on providing great value to people, then you will do so.

When you focus on cheating people, then you will do so.

WTF Coaching is a process of intentionally focusing on positive outcomes in your professional and personal life.

We ALL need WTF coaching at times.

No one is successful when they are alone.  Teams are successful.  The myth of the solo-preneur is dead.  Every successful client and alliance partner that I know of has a tremendous support team providing sales, marketing, delivery, assessments, etc.

Throughout history, our WTF Coaches have helped us become successful.  They help us keep our focus.

I currently work with 2 peer WTF Coaches, because I need more help than many 🙂

So, who is your WTF Coach?

I Only Sell Value

People buy products and services ONLY when they see tremendous value.

When I need a discount I go to Amazon or Costco.  Transactional level of services.  I do not compete with such transactional “business coaches.”  If someone wants information they can have it from my transactional websites, and

When I want to provide tremendous value to a business owner or team, then I ALWAYS provide 3 levels of value.  People need to choose.  And they pay more for each investment.

Then I strive to ALWAYS over-deliver on whatever value level they select.

If you’d like to see a sample proposal, just call or reply directly.

How about you, do you ONLY sell value?

Goals and our Reticular Activation System (RAS)

The Reticular Activation System (RAS) is that part of our brain that registers when we hear / notice something familiar amid distraction.  Imagine being in a crowded supermarket.  Then you hear your child cry out your name.  Your RAS immediately kicks in.  Endorphins and blood flow increase.  And you respond to the stimulus…

What we measure leads to change.  Ask any MBA.  Ask any manager.

Try this 30-day goal setting activity described by Brian Tracy.  Get a spiral bound notebook.  Label it “My New Best Friend.”  On page one list your top 10 goals.  Then turn the page and set it aside.  Repeat on days 2-30.  On day 31, review the patterns.  Look for patterns.

Your RAS will help you.  Then share your observations with your coach or accountability partner.

What did you notice?