Teaching Our Managers to Coach or Just Coach Them: What Can Make a Bigger Impact

Leadership development is critical to any successful business, as it can significantly impact employee engagement, productivity, and overall success. Coaching is becoming increasingly accessible to leaders and managers of different levels and is a valuable instrument in helping people achieve better results in the workplace.

Even though we see more leaders working with coaches today, another approach is becoming more popular – developing coaching skills as a leadership capability. Let’s review the two options in more detail. Which one of them has more potential to bring us better results? 

Results from the LinkedIn poll I ran in April 2023

Providing Coaching to Every Manager

This approach involves bringing in external coaches or creating an internal coaching program to provide one-on-one coaching to every manager.

One of the key benefits of this approach is that it can provide targeted support to managers who need it most and in those areas of personal development that would be most impactful to each leader. 

Here are a few ways in which an organization can benefit when every manager receives coaching:

  1. Improved leadership skills: Coaching can help managers develop leadership skills such as communication, delegation, and decision-making. Managers with strong leadership skills can more effectively guide their teams, make strategic decisions, and drive business success.
  2. Increased employee engagement: Coaching can help managers learn how to engage better and motivate their employees. When employees are engaged, they are more likely to be productive, committed, and loyal to their organization. It will result in higher levels of employee retention and job satisfaction.
  3. Better performance management: Coaching can help managers develop their skills in performance management, such as setting goals, providing feedback, and conducting performance evaluations. When managers are better equipped to manage employee performance, they can help employees reach their full potential and contribute more effectively to the organization’s success.
  4. Enhanced problem-solving skills: Coaching can help managers develop their problem-solving skills to better identify and address challenges within their teams and the organization. This can result in more effective solutions to problems and a more proactive approach to addressing potential issues.
  5. Improved communication: Coaching can help managers develop their communication skills, enhancing their ability to convey information, provide feedback, and collaborate effectively. The results are better teamwork, more robust relationships between managers and employees, and effective organizational communication.

Overall, providing coaching to every manager can help an organization create a culture of continuous learning and development. When managers are supported in their growth and development, they are better equipped to support the growth and development of their employees and the organization. 

One potential drawback of this approach is that it can be expensive. Providing one-on-one coaching to every manager can be a significant investment for the organization. In this case, employing several coaches as part of your L&D or Talent Development team full-time would make much more sense than engaging coaches ad-hoc and per individual leaders’ requests. You will also have the best opportunity to align your business goals constantly with the internal executive coaching provided in this scenario. 

Developing Coaching Skills as Leadership Capability

Developing coaching skills in every manager can provide a range of benefits to an organization:

  1. Improved employee performance: When managers have well-developed coaching skills, they can help their employees improve individual performance. Managers will coaching skills can provide feedback, set goals, and develop action plans to help employees achieve their top potential. 
  2. Increased employee retention: Coaching skills can also help managers build stronger relationships with their employees. When managers can effectively coach their employees, employees are more likely to feel valued, supported, and engaged. This results in higher levels of employee retention and lower turnover rates.
  3. Enhanced leadership skills: Developing coaching skills can help managers improve their own leadership skills. Coaching requires active listening, empathy, and the ability to ask thoughtful questions. These are all skills that are essential for effective leadership. When managers develop coaching skills, they can become more effective leaders, better able to guide their teams and achieve business goals.
  4. Improved communication: Coaching skills can also help managers improve their communication skills. Effective coaching requires clear communication and active listening, both essential for effective communication in any workplace. Managers with strong communication skills can more effectively convey information, provide feedback, and collaborate with others.
  5. Increased collaboration: Coaching skills can also help managers foster a culture of collaboration within their teams. When managers can coach their employees effectively, they can help them develop their skills and expertise. It can create a more collaborative and supportive work environment where employees are encouraged to share ideas and work together to achieve common goals.

Overall, developing coaching skills in every manager can help an organization create a more engaged, productive, and successful workforce. When every manager is equipped with coaching skills, they can more effectively support their employees, develop their own leadership skills, and create a culture of collaboration and continuous learning. This can result in a more positive work environment, higher employee retention levels, and improved long-term business performance.


Both developing coaching skills in every manager and providing coaching to every manager can be practical and impactful approaches to leadership development in your business. The best strategy for your organization will depend on your specific needs and the resources in place. 

Developing coaching skills in every manager can create a culture of coaching and help managers develop their leadership skills. Coaching every manager can provide very targeted support to every manager, helping them unlock their unique potential and leadership style. 

Whichever option you choose, investing in leadership development with coaching can help your organization achieve higher employee engagement and will help you improve team productivity and overall business success. 

Practical tips on how to adopt coaching in your business

  1. Align coaching with business goals. Don’t hesitate to bring coaching to your business, but remember to align it with your business needs and goals. Even when you invite one coach to work with only one of your executives or managers, schedule an alignment session and discuss how this coaching assignment can help your executive achieve business goals. 
  2. Think systemically. Even one-on-one coaching will affect a wider community of people. When a manager becomes a better manager, it will affect the engagement and performance of the team. When one team member engages in coaching, it may improve how this team member works with others. So when you bring a coach or coaching as a practice to your organization, think of a broader impact that this coach can bring, and don’t give a coach an ad-hoc assignment. Instead, engage them to work with a wider range of team members for a more significant result. 
  3. Hire one or two coaches full-time. The actual number of coaches you may need full-time will depend on the team size. And this is the only “dependable” for whether to do it. Because of the benefits you see above, it is clear – having an in-house coach will pay off. 

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