Both of my sons are Little League baseball players. This year, they are on different teams, which got me thinking about the two teams and how differently they are coached. At the start of every inning, one coach yells “what is this inning good for… hits and runs!” Or, as the players take their places on the field the coach encourages them to play good “D.”
The other coach starts each inning with a simple announcement of who is playing what position or the batting lineup for the inning. When a player gets a hit, one coach is jumping up and down on the sideline cheering the kids on, while the other is stoically tracking statistics.
From an outsider looking in, it may appear that the one shouting about hits and runs is the better coach, while the other cares only about winning and losing. The reality is both are great coaches, leading the teams to victories – but they have very different styles of managing their team. One leads through overt excitement for the team, while the other tracks each individual player and works on the areas that require improvement. Is one style better than the other? The answer is it depends on the player.
Employee Coaching Skills at Work
This got me thinking about what makes a great manager. This is a question that I often pose to new managers in training. I get answers like walk the walk, lead by example or be good communicator. Once in a while an attendee will tell a story about a manager who truly made a difference in the person’s career. In interviews I’ve always asked “Under what kind of management style do you work best?” The typical answer is one that is a good communicator or sets clear expectations.
What makes a great manager? There are many factors, but most importantly it’s the ability to coach the team. It’s the manager who knows how to correct a mistake without being discouraging. It’s also a manager who encourages team members to take risks and stretch themselves, but also allows the employee to practice before putting them in the game. Great managers identify areas for improvement and give them opportunities to improve on these deficiencies. Most importantly, a great manager doesn’t just say “go,” but instead says “let’s go!”
So, although outward management styles may be very different, the underlying skill set for successful managers is the ability to coach, show others how to succeed and generate a love for the game.
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