Why Coaching Matters in Building Stronger Teams?

LAST UPDATE ON June 28, 2023

Source: istock – Nattakorn Maneerat


Why Coaching Matters in Building Stronger Teams?

Research by Zenger Folkman found that leaders who are able to coach are eight times more likely to become top-tier leaders as opposed to a leader who manages. Collected data from 4,212 leaders affirmed that those coach their team delivered greater effectiveness and impact shown through their work performance. Hence, improving engagement and commitment at workplaces among teams.

Manager versus Coach

Clearly, the expectations for leaders today are not just about being able to lead, instruct, or manage, and ensuring work performance. It is also about being able to connect, engage, inspire and impact the team. To be a leader, you need to also be a coach. Question is, is it possible that the manager can also be the coach? Or is it not a distinct role between a manager and a coach?

If there should be any distinctions between a manager and a coach, it would be the approach. A manager is usually directive or instructive, that means, the leader likely prefers to “tell”, so the interaction is mostly one-way except if there are questions from the team. A manager is usually more tasks focused; thus, can become impatient when having to deal with too many questions. This usually leads to low engagement with the team, and decrease in collaboration efforts.

Coaching, on the other hand, takes on a more collaborative and empowering approach. As the saying goes, instead of “providing the fish, it is teaching them how to fish”. It means directing the team towards their own resourcefulness to discover insights and opportunities that can be translated to knowledge they can own. This ownership is critical in bringing about a change in behaviour because of the conviction gleaned from the insights gained. A coach is always interested to see transformation that brings innovation through leading change.

Becoming an Effective Coach

Building on the 4,212 collected data of the leaders who coach their team, Zenger Folkman separated those who were rated as the most effective coaches.  They identified 20 behaviours that were most frequently used by this group of most effective coaches, and further conducted a statistical factor-analysis to determine their dominant behavioural patterns.

  1. Carve out the time

Effective coaching requires setting aside time and showing up for the experience. Practically this means accessing your calendar, and scheduling the times to contact the person involved to provide coaching.

  1. Focus on specific actions

Discuss the specifics and dilute the generalities or platitudes.

  1. Inspire others via positive interactions

Create a script that leaves the other person uplifted. The best coaches were consistently seen as positive catalysts for change, rather than critics. Other looked to them for ideas, inspiration, and direction. They were seen as constantly seeking superior performance through continuous improvement. The best coaches radiate energy and enthusiasm to others.

  1. Add your ideas and experience

Coaches are not mere passive listeners. Good coaches help the person being coached to see the issues and challenges they are facing. The coaches enable them to find good answers from themselves. At the appropriate time, they give their ideas and share their experience. They deliver observations with honesty and in a non-offensive manner.

  1. Freely give honest praise

Feedback can range from redirecting or corrective observations all the way to high praise and commendation. Both kinds of feedback have their time and place. Our research, however, convincingly shows that the best coaches spend most of their time recognizing and rewarding positive performance. Their goal is to build confidence ad self-esteem, which in turn encourages even greater effort. Positive expressions far outweigh negative comments.

  1. Foster collaboration

The best coaches emphasize superordinate goals that unify people and generate collaboration. They help those they coach to see opportunities to garner cooperation from other teams and departments. They do all they can to tamp down competition between departments and to replace it with selfless cooperation.

Directing team is highly necessary in the chain of command; however, breaking that chain will also not create adversity. In fact, breaking this chain and incorporating coaching effectively will create greater freedom for the leader, and greater empowerment for the team. To change behaviour and inspire new efficiency, there is a need to focus on what will drive this change.

To impact change and grow a stronger team, it is therefore important for managers to be equipped with coaching skills, as well as leaders to further honed their coaching skills.

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©Published by Lifeskills Institute Pte Ltd

Lifeskills Institute is the strategic partner of Zenger Folkman for Singapore and Malaysia. Our Chief Enabling Officer, Ian Tan is a Master Facilitator certified by Zenger Folkman.

Zenger Folkman is a strengths-based leadership development company helping leaders elevate their people and organisations. Co-founders Dr. Jack Zenger and Dr. Joe Folkman utilise empirical data and behavioural evidence to help leaders become extraordinary.