Being a coach and being a manager are two different professions. 

In the ever-changing management and leadership industry, however, executive coaching has started to form part of the duties of management professionals. Indeed, both roles involve supporting people so that they can perform effectively within their organisation, which is perhaps what makes it harder to distinguish between the roles. 

Below, we explore the differences between coaching vs managing. We then look at the reasons why managers should build coaching skills, and how this transferable skill can be successfully applied in any future role.

What is management?

To put it simply, management is the direction and organisation of people and processes to achieve results in an organisational context. 

Management is driven strongly by metrics and is immensely task-oriented. Key performance indicators (KPIs) are a testament to the task-based nature of management, often leaving professional development as a last priority.

A management role can be stressful and will require the manager, as a professional, to remain calm in a crisis. If problems occur, your team, or the rest of the organisation, will seek solutions and guidance from you. One of the best ways to improve your management style is to focus on developing your skills.

What is coaching?

Similar to management, coaching is also about performance and getting results. 

But it is also about exploration and partnership, and about helping people to learn and develop so that they can fulfil their potential and evolve professionally and personally. 

Organisations that are looking to grow can benefit from hiring managers who have coaching skills or wish to build them. These professionals can then utilise those skills to cultivate new leaders, create opportunities for growth, and be trusted to help meet organisational objectives.

Coaching vs managing: the differences

Despite their different duties, managers and coaches share the common aim of seeking to improve performance. Both types of professionals endeavour for employees to become as effective as possible in their roles and to serve their organisations as successfully as possible. 

Below we’ve outlined some of the tasks that each professional performs for you to understand more clearly how the roles differ from each other.

Managers will carry out duties such as:

  • Delegating tasks
  • Bringing new members on board
  • Training new members
  • Leading meetings
  • Tracking and monitoring progress

Coaches will perform duties, including:

  • Arranging meetings
  • Providing guidance and support that aligns with the individual’s objectives and the organisation’s objectives
  • Helping develop plans for growth
  • Offering encouragement, reinforcement and support
  • Providing resources for individuals or groups to implement action plans
  • Operating as a role model for feedback
  • Acting as an accountability partner

It’s also worth noting that management roles will generally prioritise short-term outputs and goals (unless you’re operating as a more senior manager), whereas coaching concentrates on longer-term objectives with a focus on the future.

Why do managers need coaching skills? 

Management is seeking more from their organisations than simply carrying out the relevant tasks. Managers look to develop to their maximum potential as professionals so they can make a meaningful contribution, and be part of something bigger. 

Below we’ve highlighted further important reasons why managers should build their coaching skills.

Coaching facilitates learning and development

Development is at the very heart of coaching. Through coaching, team members learn to identify their options and establish their own solutions instead of turning to their manager. 

This self-advocacy creates opportunities for you as the manager to delegate more work to employees who have become more competent and also, as a result of their learning, more confident in handling current responsibility or in their ability to assume new ones. 

This might mean deciding the type of training they need to excel or to progress to another level, or they could be related more directly to an issue they’re experiencing that is causing them some dismay, frustration, or inconvenience in their role.

Leadership coaching motivates

Effective coaching can transform how employees feel about their duties and the organisation. 

Coaching, by its nature, is positive and inspires people to accomplish aims and improve their performance. Coaching functions as a source of support and encouragement, and works towards creating a culture and environment in which people want to contribute to the organisation.

Improving your coaching skills will help you to keep your team motivated and engaged. Additionally, it will build trust. Mistrust breeds disengagement and demotivation, both of which can harm the organisation as they can lead to lower productivity and potential increased costs.

Coaching improves communication

Coaching involves active listening, where it is clear to the other person that you’re taking on board what they’re saying. This can be demonstrated by nodding your head while they speak or repeating something they’ve said. Active listening also includes picking up on tone and body language. Essentially, more than hearing them, you’re making them feel heard by acknowledging their message intently.

Team members don’t want to feel as if they’re being ignored. It’s important both for them and for you to hear their whole message, and for you to understand the emotional motivation behind it. It’s a powerful skill that facilitates communication and connection with your team so that you can deliver a better performance as a manager.

Executive coaching fosters engagement, greater performance and productivity

The deeper engagement that coaching can produce from employees can be positive for the organisation. A past Gallup poll has found that employee engagement itself has a myriad of benefits, including growth, profitability, productivity, and lower turnover.

Engaged employees will buy into the company more and have a vested interest in the success of the organisation; its success becomes their success. They want to make a difference, and they value their place within the company. An organisation can benefit from engaged employees by giving them a platform to voice new ideas, encouraging a growth mindset, and supporting them in continued professional development.

Book an executive coaching course with us

Coaching has become a natural part of management, with an older, more directive style of management stepping aside for a more collaborative style. Coaching allows managers to elevate the level of their own performance while enabling others to prosper.

On our Coaching Masterclass for Leaders and our Chartered Management Institute (CMI)-accredited courses at Level 5 and Level 7 in coaching, you can sharpen up your skills and expand your coaching knowledge to lead your team successfully. Book your course with us by visiting the relevant course page and then clicking on the ‘book your place’ button.

If you’d like further information from us, you can click on the ‘request a callback’ link, so one of our advisors can contact you. Alternatively, send us an email to enquiries@inpd.co.uk or a message using the form on our contact page, or call us on 0161 826 3139. We’re here to support you and look forward to assisting you in building your coaching skills.


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