After the second industrial revolution, the period of Taylorism, the advent of management was based on Fayol's principles of "predict, organise, command, coordinate, control". Command and control" have long been a hallmark of an effective management style, and although challenged by the different approaches and role models and management styles that have emerged throughout the 20th century, many 21st century managers are still convinced that they must rely on their expertise and experience, and that managing is primarily about "giving directions", "explaining what to do" and "controlling what is done".
However, today's business world requires other managerial approaches if it is to 'exist' tomorrow. Because the situation has changed in a VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity) environment:
- The manager can no longer have all the answers because tomorrow is not necessarily made up of today's answers and even less of yesterday's;
- Agility, innovation and adaptability are key skills to develop in employees, more than obedience and respect for rules;
- Accountability is necessary at all levels of the company, especially as "visual" control is less and less possible with the emergence and even generalisation of teleworking.
Research over the last few decades, both in the field of neuroscience and human sciences in business, has provided some key insights:
- People are more likely to take action with desire and motivation if it comes from themselves, if they find the answers to their own questions than if they are told to do something or given a solution;
- Accompanying people with empathy, building on their potential to project themselves towards a vision is more effective than an analytical understanding of past problems.
The coaching approach today provides the solution to the impasse faced by "command and control" management. Teams led by the manager-coach are those that perform better in a complex and ever-changing environment.
According to Sir John Whitmore, one of its founding fathers, coaching is by definition a supportive approach that aims to help others learn about and from themselves, rather than teaching them things, and thus enable them to unlock their potential to maximise their own performance.
While it is difficult for a manager to have the role of an external coach with the same neutrality (by definition, a manager is involved in the achievement of the employee's objectives as they are part of his or her own objectives), it is entirely possible and desirable for the manager to integrate coaching into his or her managerial approach.
The manager-coach always has a clear objective of performance and results in achievement, but he achieves this by making his team grow; he focuses on capacity building - so that his employees find solutions - rather than on problem management.
The coaching manager is therefore a manager who adopts the coaching mindset, uses the key skills of coaching in his management, regardless of the management style he uses in the situation, and relies on coaching structures and processes to help him in his management.
Therefore, the manager-coach knows how to ask, open and stimulating questions, how to listen and how to be fully present for his employees, he is fully committed and in turn empowers his teams.