Coach Manju's Research Perspective:

“My team member is as experienced as I am and we started the career journey together. He reports to me now. How can I coach him?” : Mr. R, a Senior Sales Leader.

It was a weekday afternoon Session and I was chosen to speak on “Future of Leadership & Coaching”.

When a question like this came up, I wasn’t surprised. I took a moment to feel the pulse of the audience. None responded. Difficult, as it may seem regarding this situation, I would say it is a golden opportunity though. Most of us try to ignore these kinds of situations or find them difficult to confront !

My only question is if you ever found a situation like this, have you walked up to the person proactively and openly asked “what do you want to do to bring a change?”

Some Managers take that courage and those who don’t. The latter category isn’t bad managers, but they are neglecting a golden opportunity, to develop talent. As a Manager, one need not be a professional coach. But these Managers who show the courage to ask, even if it’s hard, are future leaders who value coaching, who see coaching as a managerial toolkit to open conversations! It’s about identifying an opportunity to unleash talent, that’s the golden opportunity I mentioned before.

With Rapid, disruptive changes on an everyday basis, employees need to learn to adapt to changing environments with innovative ideas and commitment. Twenty-first-century Managers need to work on unleashing that energy and help people grow. The role of the manager, in short, is becoming that of a coach.

We should note that when we talk about coaching, it’s not just personal or professional coaching. The coaching we are talking about here is the work that all managers in a learning organization would do to engage with all their people, to define a performing behavior, and to advance in their mission.

Coaching is not just a way of sharing what you know with less experienced or newcomers. It’s about asking the right questions to reflect upon actions and to spark insights of wisdom in the other person. Sir John Whitmore, a leading author of Coaching wrote “Coaching is unlocking people’s potential to maximize their own performance”


Harvard Business School has been researching managers who coach and find coaching an important place in their schedule. They found five patterns in the mindset of managers who takes coaching seriously.

1. They see coaching as an essential tool for achieving work- goals. Coaching Managers are not coaching people because they are nice; they see personal involvement in the development of talent as an essential activity for business success. While extremely talented people are extremely difficult to find and recruit, a skilled manager can nurture and develop that talent within his team using ‘coaching’.

2. They enjoy helping people develop. Coaching Managers see this as part of their job satisfaction. They believe that even those with high potential would need a manager’s help to understand the changing demands and fulfill their greater ambitions.

3. They are curious about analyzing and solving problems. Coaching Managers are genuinely interested in finding out more about how things are going, what kinds of problems people are running into, where are the gaps, where are the opportunities, and what needs to be done better. Curiosity is their natural strength.

4. They are interested in establishing connections. Coaching Managers need that trust that connects relationships to gauge which approach they take in their managerial journey. A coaching manager recently stated, “Ultimately none is above anyone else, we just need to work together and see what we can accomplish together.”

5. They understand managerial coaching is all about developing others. It's called a coaching mindset. One of the basic principles here is that coaching isn’t always about telling people what they need to do. Rather it’s about initiating conversations with open-ended questions that allow people to reflect on what they are doing and what they can do differently to improve their performance


Now you may ask how can I differentiate coaching an experienced team member and coaching a newcomer?

Sometimes you’ll coach someone who is of a significantly different age or career stage from you.

Use these tips to tailor your approach:

Newcomers benefit by being told they’re on the right track.

In conclusion, We live in a world of CHANGE! Successful Leaders need to increasingly develop their capacity in their industry knowledge and functional expertise and also develop that capacity in the people of their team. For this, they need to re-invent themselves as coaches and unleash motivational energy, innovation, and commitment in the people they work with. Empower them leads to empowering you.


Harvard Business Review Articles by Heminia Ibarra, Joseph R. Weintraub, James M.Hunt.

McKinsey Insights.

Blog by :

Manju Viswam

Executive Leadership Trainer & Communication Coach, Hong Kong