Why should managers learn coaching skills?

The preliminary question is: What do managers really need?  Do they need knowledge or do they need skills?  Do they need a another fashionable diploma or do they need to change the way they manage people in their everyday context?

  • If the answer is that managers need more kgeneral nowledge and theory to understand  coaching and how it may apply to leadership, designing visions and goals, elaborating values, motivating people, etc. then practical training on coach skills is not very useful.
  • If the answer is that managers need to develop more practical communication and relational know-how, they need to revisit and modify their day-to-day way of relating with their employees, with their clients and with their business partners, then acquiring coaching skills and behaviors can definitely be appropriate.

Coach training workshops are paper-and-slides-free behavioral learning environments providing each participant an active context to acquire very practical pragmatic skills.  In these workshops, participants learn by doing and practicing rather than by absorbing knowledge about practice.

indeed, workshops differ from seminars.  The privileged approach is not focused on theory nor on concepts but on physically or behaviorally acquiring skills by repeatedly experimenting competencies until they become a second nature, naturally built-in communication reflexes.  To use a sports metaphor, seminars teach students theory about muscle and concepts on ideal styles.  Workshops offers active workout environments to build muscle and develop a personal style.

Outcomes:  Consequently, after following a workshop, the measurable result for managers is that they change their day-to-day behaviors within their immediate professional environments if not in all their relationships.  They very practically implement what they have already repeatedly practiced.  Within coaching workshops,

  • Managers develop the motivation to use coaching skills because they personally experiment achieving very positive results with these skills.
  • Managers become competent in the use of coaching skills because they practice them time and again with a masterful trainer and coach in a well-designed learning environment.

In coaching workshops, however, managers also learn much more than behavioral skills.  They change more than skin deep.  There is a paradoxical observation about learning new behaviors and acquiring very practical skills:   when managers really change how they communicate,  they gradually change who they are.

People often think that learning different behaviors is just a superficial process. It just takes time.  If you want to improve your service in tennis, for example, just practice serving one thousand times.  You will almost automatically achieve your goal and improve your service.  Indeed, practice makes perfect.  In coaching, managers can also learn new behaviors in the same way.  Learning how to listen and then ask powerful questions just takes practice.

Note however that in general, learning by sheer repetition is not perceived as very validating, motivating nor committing for participants.  This type of behavioral learning is looked down upon as if it were too mechanical and not noble enough for elevated minds. Consequently, numerous managers come to skills training with the idea that they are just acquiring tools, in a superficial way but that they will not fundamentally change.

One becomes what one does.  Observation in training situations seems to prove otherwise.  To become a pofessional pianist, one needs to practice hours, days, months and years. Acquiring a discipline in any domain requires minute practice, regular practice and then more practice.  Only through practice does one really achieve mastery.  In coach training workshops, as managers espouse behavioral changes, they also gradually change their perspectives on management and that in turn may modify their more fundamental nature.   They may even change physically.  Note that tennis players gradually develop one arm to become much stronger than the other.

So any regularly practiced management activity is different and each develops very different qualities.  Just like in sports, different activities modify personal equilibrium, distribution of strength, capacity for speed, personal resilience, heart rhythms, team skills, precision in details, individual concentration, systemic strategy, will power, etc.  The same happens in  coach training environments such as workshops. All the behavioral skills that are acquired by the managers help them acquire more than personal competencies. These skills gradually change how they are as managers and sometimes how they are perceived in their leadership position.  More deeply, these changes may affect how they perceive themselves and their own roles as leaders.  

Consequently, by practicing new skills in workshops, managers learn to use them.  Behaving differently changes the way they relate with others.  Changing how managers relate modifies how they are perceived.  This in turn changes their perceptions of their work environment and of who their employees are.   If this process is tailored towards accompanying personal growth in the work environment by the development of how we manage people, then we become much better managers.

In coaching learning environments and workshops, managers do not only learn how to do coaching or management. They also learn how to become profound coaches and effective managers with real people skills.

To conclude, coach training environments for managers are designed to have them acquire powerful people-coaching skills.  These are communication competencies that can be used within a large number of other professions that deal with people such as in sales, recruiting, counseling, training, etc.   Acquiring coaching skills for professionals in any of these fields not only helps them succeed better in their profession, it also helps them develop to become better people.