On LinkedIn the other day, I was directed to a question about coaching. That questions was, “I’ve heard various opinions about the importance of coaching. I’ve even heard some philosophies that argue sales managers shouldn’t be coaches at all? Where should “coaching” fall as a priority for a sales manager and why?”
Over my next three blog posts, I will be providing some deeper insight and more clarity around these pressing questions.
Whether or not all sales managers should be coaches is another topic of discussion. Conversely, it’s difficult to determine the priority level of coaching for the sales manager if this question isn’t addressed as well, if not first, as it speaks to the foundation that each organization needs to build upon if they truly want to transform their company and their culture into a true, sustainable coaching culture. Ultimately, it’s the environment in which coaching is being cultivated that will determine success or failure. Coaching needs to become the priority of the organization to ensure the deepest impact.
So, let me qualify my response to the initial part of this question by saying, in the right environment and based on my definition of coaching, every manager needs to expand their role as a manager and develop the essential skills needed to become an effective coach. Coaching is now part of every manager’s job description and is a non negotiable core competency they need to develop. Coaching is not just an event, nor is it something that happens only during regularly scheduled coaching sessions. Coaching is a language and a more powerful way of communicating. It is something that can be leveraged during every conversation. In short, my definition of coaching is the art of creating a new possibility. Now, whether or not the manager “should” coach, wants to coach or can coach, both in ability and in execution, and do so effectively and consistently is dependent upon a variety of factors, which I’ll address shortly.
Coaching is the missing discipline of leadership; a learned and developed skill for every manager; and given the measurable results that effective coaching drives (measured through objective company /industry surveys as well as what I’ve experienced coaching thousands of managers and salespeople), coaching isn’t going to become the next great fad that fizzles out or the flavor of the month. Masterfully delivered coaching is here to stay. Whether or not a company weaves coaching into their culture isn’t a question of “if” but a question of “when,” as those companies that have done so successfully will report that coaching has provided them with a competitive edge, which has allowed them to respond better and faster in the new marketplace.
Conversely, failed coaching initiatives certainly do happen frequently in many organizations for a variety of reasons. The main reason is that, quite frankly, coaching is more difficult than most managers realize. Granted, there are a many moving parts and variables which come into play that would determine how effective the coach is, how valuable the coaching is, and whether or not all sales managers or even a specific sales manager needs to, or for that matter, has the opportunity to transform into more of a coach. I will be listing some of these determining factors in tomorrow’s blog.