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Want to Create A Pipeline of Leaders? Train Managers to Become Better Coaches

By Madhukar Govindaraju, Founder & CEO
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The climate of change influencing global markets continues to put pressure on organizations to improve succession planning. They need to constantly build a strong pipeline of leaders to ensure continued business success. We can credit the rise of leadership development and leadership nurturing programs to this need. 

However, developing a leadership pipeline with people with the necessary hard and power skills has been an uphill battle for most. Day-long or week-long training programs on leadership development are not delivering the intended results. This is primarily because ‘leadership’ is not one skill. It is a set of multiple skills, most of which demand a behavioral change. 

Read: Is Your Leadership Development Initiative Not Working? Here Is How To Fix It

Behavioral change can only be achieved with constant reiteration and internalization. Given human disposition, even the most driven and talented employee will find it hard to remain motivated enough to drive and implement a change unless there is a shift in behavior. 

Managers are valuable cogs in the wheel of organizations looking at developing their leadership pipeline. While identifying high-potential employees is a part of the manager’s purview, making sure that the talent is nurtured and pushed in the right direction is also an essential part of this job role. The manager is the bridge that connects the organization to the employee and, hence, has an important role to play in developing leaders for tomorrow. 

Here are a few compelling reasons why you need to train managers to become better coaches if your organization wants a strong pipeline of leaders to leverage in the future. 

Leadership has to be built at every level

While there are few who move into the leadership pipeline, organizations now have to work towards developing a ‘leadership mindset’ across the spectrum of employees. A leadership mindset is growth-oriented, it focuses on being solution-driven, it is steeped in ownership and critical thinking. 

These are qualities and skills that help every employee do their job better and become more outcome-driven and productive. These skills, or the lack of it, have to be identified, honed and nurtured to develop the capable leaders of tomorrow. Since managers are the ones closest to their teams, they need to be trained to coach their teams to help the teams develop these skills. 

Coach to drive performance 

A leadership pipeline can only be called a strong and mature one when it includes people who have emotional intelligence and technical intellect. Managers are the best people to identify which team member lacks in which aspect and are well aware of areas that need development.

The team’s performance is one of the primary responsibilities of a manager. In this world of rapid change, managers have to inspire their teams to become performance-driven, and not instruct them. They can communicate in the language that inspires to maximize team performance. However, most managers admit that they don’t coach their teams and stick to disseminating technical and functional skills and only review performance because they don’t know how to coach! 

When managers become better coaches, they can proactively help their team members identify areas of improvement and ensure employees track and achieve their goals proactively.

Goodbye surprises and awkward conversations

Coaching managers to develop stronger teams and individuals helps them understand the strength of coaching. Once they learn and understand how coaching helps them to drive their team, they can identify and implement all the changes and strategies needed to develop a high-performance team. 

Coaching managers also leads to better team engagement, fewer awkward conversations, and no surprises when it comes to performance management. When managers themselves become coaches, they know how to guide individual team members proactively along their career paths by providing contextual, unbiased, and regular feedback. 

They also become more capable of identifying issues early and help their teams become better problem-solvers. They can help their team members be more agile and adaptive towards change and also become more innovative. 

Establish the difference between managing and micromanaging 

Managers have to be on top of everything and make sure that their teams meet their goals and targets. However, often managers end up micromanaging everything, thereby removing individual autonomy and freedom from the equation. The result is a team that is highly dependent on instruction and is unable to make the right decisions. When managers micromanage, they send out a clear message that the team members cannot be trusted. Is it then a surprise that members of such a team do not qualify to be future leaders?

With coaching, managers can understand the subtle difference between managing and micromanaging. It helps them identify the strengths and weaknesses of their team members and gives them the tools they need to bridge these gaps most appropriately. 

Instead of instructing, managers then enable a growth mindset within their team members, which helps the latter believe that failures are learning opportunities and obstacles are opportunities in disguise. 

Finally, given the rise of the millennials and Gen Z as the dominant demographic in the workforce demands a shift in the way managers lead their teams. Understanding the motivations of this workforce and identifying the best ways to engage with them is essential. For example, this demographic wants managers to be their sounding board for their ideas. They also want to devote time discussing new ways of working and evaluating how they will progress to the leadership path. It thus becomes essential to coach managers to connect with this demographic in meaningful ways so that they can move away from the old method of ‘managing by instruction’ to ‘managing by inspiring’. 

By coaching managers, organizations make leadership development a continuous process. Consequently, they can have an army of qualified, well-adjusted, and high-potential employees constituting their leadership pipeline. 

Get a live demo to discover how NumlyEngage™ can help you coach your managers better and improve employee engagement, performance, and productivity by up to 400%!

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