• Define what a manager-coach is and why become one;
  • Understand the characteristic elements of a manager-coach;
  • Implement a strategy to become a manager-coach.


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" has 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 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.

Par conséquent, le manager-coach sait poser des questions ouvertes et stimulantes, sait écouter et être pleinement présent pour ses collaborateurs, il est  pleinement engagé et responsabilise à son tour ses équipes.


1. State of mind and posture

The manager-coach is open, curious, flexible and focuses on the potential and abilities of the other person:

  • He sees his staff as capable, resourceful and creative; - He believes that his staff are able to solve the problems they face (and, if necessary, learn the new skills they need);
  • He has accepted that he does not have all the answers.

2. Competencies

The manager-coach has developed his or her skills and know-how in terms of : - Presence: he/she knows how to be "here and now" and to make himself/herself totally available to his/her collaborator within the time defined for the exchange;

  • Knowing how to listen without a filter and actively;
  • Asking open-ended questions and leading the other person to reflect:

3. Structures and methodologies

The manager-coach can rely on structures or processes that can facilitate his or her discussions in a coaching posture:

  • The Alliance: creating an intentional relationship and defining how we want to be together within a team is key to developing a coaching culture. This can be done inter-individually with each employee and collectively at the team level;
  • The GROW model: this is a model for structuring a reflection on a problem, setting the objective, clarifying the reality in which the problem is situated, brainstorming the possible options and giving responsibility by committing to actions to be implemented;
  • Accountability and follow-up of accountability;
  • Feedback in a coaching posture.

Some "tips" to help you put it into practice

  • Mindset

Analyse your mindset towards your colleagues; if you find that you sometimes look at others and say "this person is a problem" or "this person has a problem", try to adopt the perspective :

"This person is full of strengths and resources and faces challenges along the way.”

This will make you less likely to judge her or to want to solve her problem, and more likely to listen to her and ask her to solve her own problem.

  • Presence

Don't adopt an open-door strategy, but rather one of total availability for a set period of time; for example, if you have a weekly one-to-one meeting with each member of staff, allow 30 minutes without looking at your phone or emails (and stopped notifications), and having put down on a piece of paper beforehand the issues that concern you, so that they don't clutter up your mind.

  • Listening

Drink in the words of your interlocutor! Do not try to compare with situations you have experienced, nor to understand too much intellectually, but rather try to gather how the person experiences this situation and if he/she perceives well what he/she is facing, and get him/her to remember similar situations in the past that he/she was able to solve.

  • How to ask your question
  • o Less is more! "And what else?", "Tell me more" are very powerful questions.

    o Cover a wide range with your questions

▪ the feeling: "given what you are telling me, what do you feel?

▪ resources: "what similar situations have you experienced in the past and what strengths/resources/capacities have you mobilised?

▪ action: "given what you know about the situation, what will you do?”

o "Learn to love the silences"... if there is a silence after you have asked a question, it is certainly because the person you are talking to is thinking... give them that space!

Adopting the mindset of the manager-coach is possible whatever the management style that the situation requires, including the directive style... to illustrate with a metaphor, in a storm, the captain of the ship will apply a directive style by giving clear directives, and if he is a "captain-coach", he will know how to debrief with his team after the storm with curiosity, listening and questioning

To be a manager-coach is to choose to integrate into one's managerial practice a state of mind and skills that enable one to release the potential of one's employees.