A manager: As a coach, not a boss

Jonah Nyoni

The manager has a bigger role as we enter into this 4th Industrial Revolution. In fact his role has changed significantly.


In the past the manager was mainly about making sure the right product was produced within the shortest possible time. But not now, things have changed.

Remember, Nokia was the best in producing mobile phones, but change pushed it aside. Who remembers the Blackberry phone with a qwerty keyboard? You remember Kodak? I loved its analogue film so much that it did not see its own death coming.

Now, what should the manager be doing? As companies converge at the 2018, have to consider coaching the employee as the new frontier.

In the book The Complete Handbook of Coaching it is said, “Coaching could be seen as a human development process that involves structured, focuses interaction and use of appropriate strategies, tools, and techniques to promote desirable and sustainable change for the benefit of the coachee and potentially for other stakeholders.”

Thinking errors

Most companies and managers say, “we have always done things this way.” As we grow and learn in life, there are vibrations we pick. These are embedded into our
subconscious mind or pre-frontal cortex and form our belief systems. These cognitions have been classified into three groupings; “automatic thoughts; intermediate beliefs (attitudes, rules and assumptions); and core beliefs” (Cox, Bachkirova et al 2010: 38, citing Judith Beck 1995).

This kind of thinking has to be challenged as it forms the traditions, norms, styles, and cultures that impede growth. So the manager has to be open-minded to help employees to reach for a “new normal” by coaching and challenging them to destroy these cognitive distortions.

Idea generation

The employment environment must be changed from being a place of routine and mundane tasks, but to a place of idea generation.

Allow people to explore, make creative mistakes. Challenge them to bring innovative and disruptive ideas. The worst mistakes is the fear to destroy the very thing that you made.

If you are afraid to kill the very thing you made you a seating on your laurels, which you could regret when someone overtakes you.

The learning culture

Learning is the best thing every company should forcibly love. Learn to unlearn what you learnt. Learn to be flexible in leaner markets. Learn how to swim out of red oceans into blue oceans.

What has killed most Zimbabwean companies is so overt; bureaucratic systems. Managers must remove secreticisim and complexities that bring about confusions and complications to the employees.

Most companies are entangled around expensive systems, processes, unnecessary encryptions and old and irrelevant laws. The new manager should now cultivate this learning culture and encourage others to fall with it as well

Get-off your butt

It’s time the new manager got to the people and know what’s happening on the ground. Coach them!

At times managers become office robots. They are inundated by meetings that have nothing do to with the success of the company.

They are perpetually in meetings standing for the employee who they don’t even know. Go down, and get the tempo or temperature of you company. Conversations between the manager and the employee are important.

This helps “individuals” in an organisation, and how to best pick their talents and personalise their performance while feeding into the bigger goal of the company. This helps the manager connect and manage teams effectively.

You will be surprised, most companies close down in their ground floor, while the manager on the upper floor still assume that things are still moving well.

Cross-pollinating ideas

The manager should out-source external ideas. Your perspective and that of the company might not be enough. Engage external experts who will bring external panoramic view.

We are socialised to believe that we are in a great place only to be surprised that there are better thoughts outside. The new manager can win today, as long as he eliminates thinking errors, allow generation of new ideas, goes to the ground and understands and picks the undertones from the greatest asset in a company; the employee, out-sources expertise from training experts and embraces learning agility.

Emotional intelligence

An article by Travis Bradberry (2017) published by the World Economic Forum (WEF) says, “Emotional intelligence is the ‘something’ in each of us that is a bit intangible. It affects how we manage behaviour, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions that achieve positive results.”

In the book, The Big 100 by Jeremy Kourdi (2015: 178), emotional intelligence is defined as, “…taking information from your own emotions and the emotions of others and then applying that knowledge in order to be successful.”

According to Bradberry, emotional intelligence is made of two competences and the first one is called personal competency. This is sub-divided into self-awareness and self-management.

Basically, personal competence, is the ability to understand your personal emotions, how to manage and apply them, especially on other people. In the coaching circles, we call this the ability to “know thy self”.

Self-awareness helps you to know your emotions, and self-management is the ability to control, manage and express those emotions to other.

A manage with a great EQ is socially competent. Social competence as according to Bradberry is the “ability to understand other people’s moods, behaviour, and motives in order to respond effectively and improve the quality of your relationships.”

Social competence is made of two components; Social awareness and Social management. Social Awareness is the ability to intuitively perceive other people’s emotions.

Whereas Social management is the ability to use personal and other people’s emotions as to co-exist or relate in harmony.

As managers how do we practically use emotional intelligence?

1) You are attuned to your own emotions — self-awareness

2) You are able to control/manage your emotions- self control.

3) You are able to motivate yourself in face of vicissitudes/vagaries — self-motivation.

4) You are able to easily recognise the emotions of others or pick their emotional vibrations.

5) You are able to manage your employee’s emotions

6) You are able to handle conflict, positively manage work relations, create a rapport, and stay connected.

7) You are able to coach employees to be emotionally astute without hurting their feelings.

8) You are able to decipher the personality types/traits and that you know how to personally interact or handle them.

Talent coaching

It’s a rarity to find both the right talent with the right qualification. Its either you can get talent and hone its skill and qualify it.

Or you can get the right qualifications, who never has a talent for what you want.

There talent goes through a number of processes. (i) Talent identification (ii) Talent delegation/alignment (iii) Talent development (iv) Talent retention (v) Talent reinvigoration.

How does the coaching manager come in?

Alan Sielar said, “The essential goal of the coach is to be a catalyst for change by respectfully and costructively triggering a shift in the coachee’s way of being to enable him or her to develop perceptions and behaviours that were previously unavailable, all of which is consistent with what the coachee wants to get from coaching,” Cox, Bachkirova et al 2010: 109.

I formulated SIP model to help the manager coach the employee. This acronym was created from strengths, interests and purpose.

The manager should look out for the strengths from the employee, so that they fit them where those natural strengths are needed. About interest, what is the employee naturally interested in?

Their passions and what they would do without being coerced. Finally, has the employee found their purpose? What is purpose? It is the reason for being.

When they discover why they are here on earth, it’s easy for them to fulfil their mandate. So it is for the manager to work closely and investigate these three things and help the employee become and do their best both for the fulfilment of their personal and company goals.

lJonah Nyoni is an author, success coach and certified leadership/business trainer. He is the author of Inspiration for Success and Success Within Reach. Contact details: Tel: 0772 581 918. Email: jonah@classicmail.co.za. Twitter@jonahnyoni.