What Is The Difference Between A Good Manager And A Great One?

Google’s “Project Oxygen,” is a rigorous, data-based analysis of what makes great managers. Technical expertise made a difference, but only a small one. The single most important differentiator between good and great managers? “Be a good coach.”

What Google’s Best Managers Do

By examining data from employee surveys and performance reviews, Google’s people analytics team identified eight key behaviours demonstrated by the company’s most effective managers. 

A good manager:

  1. Is a good coach
  2. Empowers the team and does not micromanage
  3. Expresses interest in and concern for team members’ success and personal well-being
  4. Is productive and results-oriented
  5. Is a good communicator—listens and shares information
  6. Helps with career development
  7. Has a clear vision and strategy for the team
  8. Has key technical skills that help him or her advise the team

In a previous article, entitled Coaching 101, I introduced a way to delineate the difference between the kind of coaching a manager does with members of their team day-to-day from the kind of coaching a Professional Coach does with their clients, as follows:

One simple way to think and talk about the difference is to refer to small “c” coaching / coach vs capital “C” Coaching / Coach. This can help distinguish the informal coaching that most of us do as coaches in our various roles in life from the more formal Coaching that a Professional Coach provides to their clients, or coaches. 

Let’s now focus on understanding more about the kinds of coaching managers do.

Every Manager Needs to Practice Two Types of Coaching

In a HBR article published in September 2016, Dick Grote discusses two distinct types of coaching:

  1. Calendar-Driven Coaching
  2. Event-Driven Coaching

Read the full article to learn more…

Learning To Be A Great Coach

Coaching, like leadership, can be taught and can be learned. Essentially managers have several options when it comes to studying how to become a better coach:

  • Read books about coaching
  • Take external courses offered by training companies / Universities about coaching
  • Take internal courses offered by your employer on coaching
  • Integrate a software platform into the way you manage that facilitates actionable conversations throughout your organisation
  • Experience coaching by apprenticing with a Master Coach

In the ideal world; given this research finding that being a good coach is the highest leverage capacity that a manager can develop within themselves, you would do a combination of all of the above.

Mastery In Coaching

The challenge for time poor managers is integrating micro-learning into their daily or weekly routines. If you need help thinking about how to best cultivate your inner coach, nLIVEn can assist.

Did you know that nLIVEn offers a no-obligation consultation that is designed to help people assess whether coaching / mentoring is right for them?

If you need to re-discover your ambition, navigate your way through change, regain focus or learn some practical new skills to make the best of your professional situation, please contact us today.


Article: Coaching 101
Article: Every Manager Needs to Practice Two Types of Coaching
Article: How Google Sold Its Engineers on Management

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