At Work

10 ways coaching improves managerial performance

“A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear, and has you see what you don’t want to see, so you can be who you have always known you can be.” – Tom Landry

Executive coaching helps to improve manager performance. In the process, coaches work with the manager, one-on-one, to understand their strengths and weaknesses and to help them achieve greater successes. It is a relationship based on trust and openness.

A good coach encourages the manager to reflect, understand their behaviour and to make required changes. A good coach is perceptive, and has a variety of tools, techniques as well as extensive experience.

How exactly does executive coaching work and result in improved performance? This article explains 10 specific ways by which coaching improves effectiveness and performance:

1. Uncover blind spots

Coaching helps to uncover what the manager might be doing wrong but doesn’t know. These behaviours are called “blind spots”. Blind spots are uncovered through feedback, reflective questions and by the benefit of the experience of the coach.

2. Stay on course for goals

A coach can help the manager to stay on course for a desired larger goal. Having a coach increases accountability towards achieving the goal. The coach is a minder, a watchdog, a supporter and a guide.

A coach helps to identify behaviour that helps achievement of the goal. Likewise, the coach can also help to identify behaviours that hinder achievement. Coaches can also review milestones and help with course correction.

3. Challenge to raise the bar

A coach, much like in sports, can help the manager (athlete) to ‘raise the bar’ and go for a higher level of performance. This is achieved through a combination of reflection, gradual goal setting, challenging and providing supportive or corrective feedback.

4. Learn from modelling right behaviour

In a difficult situation, a coach can demonstrate the right behaviour or provide examples of the right technique. The manager who is being coached can then model around this behaviour and learn the right way of doing things. The situation could be interviewing, or giving feedback to a colleague or even making a speech.

5. Be a sparring partner

A coach can be a “sparring partner” to serve as a sounding board for talking things through in a sticky situation. Sometimes it is difficult to be objective or to see flaws in one’s own argument. This can be best done by someone who is more experienced, objective and is trained to improve performance.

6. Provide a "light bulb" moment

A coach can bring new insight, new idea or a way of doing things – this would serve as a “lightbulb” moment. This could also be a case study for similar situations at a later stage.

7. Create actionable takeaways

A coach can help to create takeaways and actions – both short term and long term and follow up to see that these actions are implemented.

8. Create step-by-step powerful blueprint to success

There are times when the manager knows the problem, what is wrong and has a lot of data and analysis. However, he or she does not know where to start, what the steps are and how to go to the desirable situation. A coach can help to build a step-by-step blueprint that can be followed through for success.

9. Increase the energy level

A coach is very useful when energy levels are down, or when the manager is demotivated or has self-doubts. This is when the coach helps to see the bright sparks and chart out a course of action for success. An important role for the coach is to be the encourager and supporter.

10. Keep alive the 'beginner's mind'

The ‘beginner’s mind’ is the aptitude to learning new things. A coach can help to inculcate this attitude, setting the manager on course for greater discovery and success.

Sharad Verma is the global head of human resources for a financial technology organisation based in India. With over 20 years of human resource experience, his expertise lies within talent retention and development specifically geared toward middle management, and he blogs regularly on these topics. To contact him, email


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