Bring the Best

Managers do not coach!

Managers Mentor. They don’t coach!

There is not a single academic paper, research about leadership that does not mention coaching as one of the top three skills of a leader is coaching. However, is coaching in the corporate world the same as defined by the International Coaching Federation (ICF)? This post I present my opinions in answering this question when corporate coaching is done in house by a manager or supervisor or other executives of the company and a professional coach certified by the ICF. Based on more than 25-years of experience in the corporate world, my response, leading teams to excel, is a big NO. Managers don’t coach. They mentor, and this is why. 

According to the ICF, coaching is “a partnership with clients through a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”

Analyzing this definition, I say that coaching at the corporate level is all about:

1) improving your relationship with your manager or peers;

2) improving your communication skills;

3) improving your performance;

4) broaden your career path;

5) improving your work-balance life;

6) improving your executive presence, among others.

Based on this non-exhaustive list, you can immediately see how a conflict of interest arises. Since an executive or a manager or any other senior employee acting as an in-house coach can be coaching an individual that one day can report to them, they can be a peer of the employee’s manager.This conflict will generate a lack of confidentiality and an unsafe environment where psychological safety does not exist. This is in direct opposition to the first competency of the ICF, which is to ensure privacy and a safe, confidential environment, as themes or subjects touched or told about and discussed during the sessions can be addressed and talked about as part of talent development, of employee’s performance and development review meetings. After all, the in-house coach is loyal to the company, not the coachee. 

The purpose of coaching is to coach the person, not the issues they bring to the table. In the corporate world, a “coach” generally shares experiences and behaviours and provides wisdom and guidance based on their own experience. This description is a broader definition of mentoring, not coaching. Mentoring may include advising, counselling and coaching. Coaching does not include advising or counselling so that the coachee can emulate and improve the expected behaviour.

Let us remember that coaching is a co-creation process, and it is a partnership between the coach and the coachee where the coach is responsible for the process. 

In contrast, the coachee is responsible and accountable for implementing the actions. Coaching’s success is based on the coachee’s objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs), not the organization’s manager. For the ultimate victory, the organization, the supervisor and the coachee KPIs should be aligned. Most of the time, they are not. 

Without some relevant and contextual details, it is not difficult to judge the poor efficacy of using internal or in-house coaching in the corporate world. Simply it will not work due to fundamental ethical issues, e.g. conflict of interests, lack of confidentiality and lack of psychological safety, which are the basis of coaching. 

Bringing all together.

Corporations and leadership gurus should stop saying that one of the leadership skills is coaching. Therefore, corporations and managers should always hire an external coach from a recognized and reputable firm and stick to what they do best – mentoring to ensure the coachee’s success and the coaching process. 

I am curious to understand your views on coaching versus mentoring and if you see coaching as an internal in house process or you should hire an external executive coach. Let me know in the comments below.

DISCLAIMERThe views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author, and they are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organisation, company, individual or anyone or anything.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top