Transforming Employee Performance One Coaching Conversation at a Time

By Brian Souza

Why is it that so many good people are such bad managers? It’s an interesting question, isn’t it? Often when I give a keynote, I’ll ask the audience by a show of hands how many people have ever had a lousy boss. Regardless of where I might be in the world, virtually every hand in the room goes up. Then I follow up with “And how many of you still have a lousy boss?” That always gets a good laugh and plenty of uncomfortable shifting in seats from those unfortunate enough to be sitting next to their bosses.

For years I was perplexed by the fact that so many well-intentioned, hard working people could be so ineffective at their jobs. Isn’t it amazing that despite the boatloads of management books available, billions of dollars spent on leadership training, and countless MBA diplomas received that the vast majority of employees are still incredibly dissatisfied with their bosses? Clearly, whatever we’ve been taught – whatever we, as managers, are doing – isn’t working.

To be fair, that’s only half correct. You see, there are basically two sides to management. There’s the process side, which deals with planning, scheduling, controlling, allocating resources, etc. These are the hard skills that most of us learned in school. And frankly, most managers are pretty good at the process-side. The people side? Not so much. And the reason is surprisingly simple: it turns out most managers have never been taught the right approach for how to consistently get the most out of their people.

Having devoted the better part of my career over the past decade to analyzing world-class leaders of highly productive teams, I was shocked to discover the fundamental difference between world-class leaders of highly productive teams and most managers doesn’t necessarily have to do with their IQ, strategic vision, or operational prowess, as one might expect. The fundamental difference came down to one thing: their approach. They didn’t act like a manager; they acted like a coach.

At a very basic level, there are four different types of managers. And each type of manager has a very distinct style or approach, which has a profound impact on the relationship (rapport) he or she has with team members and their level of productivity.

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