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By Darryl Stewart
Can a boss really be a good coach to their staff?

Can a boss really be a good coach to their staff?

A reader recently reached out to me after reading one of my coaching blogs and questioned whether a boss could really be a good coach to the people they lead.

Here is an excerpt from the reader’s note:

“A boss and a coach are similar in that both want to see you succeed. The difference comes in that the boss wants to see results for the sake of the organization’s success, and a coach wants to see results for the sake of the individual. To me, a coach is someone who you can express problems to and get non-judgmental feedback from.” 

I understand this thinking and I agree that a “typical” boss is likely not going to be a great coach. This type of boss is thinking mostly about getting results through their people. Their main concern is how it will reflect on them if employees don’t perform. Their self-interest, inexperience with people, lack of humility –whatever you want to call it – makes it hard for them to be an effective coach. They care too much about the results and not enough about the people involved. I fell into this category myself early on in my leadership career.

On the other hand, the best leaders care just as much about the personal success of each staff member as they do about the results the person creates. And unlike the mythical non-judgmental coach my reader describes, they use their direct experience with the person to figure out how to help each person achieve success. In my mind, there is no coach more valuable than one who observes a person’s performance daily and gives caring feedback on how to get better. This coach is much more valuable than the one who listens “non-judgmentally” to someone’s interpretation of self and then tries to give objective guidance.

A good boss puts each staff member’s personal development on an equal footing with the results they create for the organization. That sort of boss is the best possible coach. This belief gets me out of bed every day. As a leader, I get to make a difference in the lives of the people I lead.

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