Your Critical People Roles: Leader, Manager and Coach

by Jason Questor
EVP Learning Systems and
Lynda Keating
EVP Culture and Leadership Practice

As soon as you move into a formal or informal role where you are expected to be the point person for a group of people, you will be faced with the expectation that you will somehow, automatically, understand the many hats you have just assumed. This can be tricky, because the titles associated with the roles may be deceiving. You are called a Project Leader, but is the expectation that you will, in fact, think and act as a leader of your team? You have been promoted to Business Manager, but does everyone expect you to coach teams and individuals towards success and professional development?  In many organizations, the distinctions among these words and the roles they imply are used interchangeably, causing confusion for all concerned. It gets even more complicated when you move into the realm of executive designations such as Director, Vice President or C-Suite roles.

What exactly are the differences? What organizational needs are met by having people in these roles? What does it mean to you and your people regarding the expectations everyone has? And what about all those skills you have amassed as a subject matter expert and contributor? Are you expected to shelve them because of your new title?

Let’s start by comparing some essential key concepts. Management, leadership and coaching encompass distinct sets of responsibilities that address different – but equally important – types of organizational needs. The behaviours are driven by the defining elements, viewpoint, priorities and expectations of the role.
 To be effective in any of these roles you have to start by looking at yourself. What motivates you? What are your priorities? What does success look like to you? These are important questions, because what each of these roles have in common is a focus on people. Are people important to you, or are bottom line results the only thing that matters in your universe?  Do you really see people as the most valuable resource, or just as arms and legs that get things done according to financial expectations?  Do you understand that investing in the engagement of talent is the key to long term business success, or do you see staff as fungible objects that are easily replaced?  Think about this and be honest with yourself.
To be great at any of these roles you must sincerely care about the feelings, thoughts and professional development of your team members, as a group and as individuals. In so doing you will gain the ability to achieve both financial success and the enviable reputation of being with an organization that is a great place to work. While much has been said about the importance of this for attracting and retaining the Millennial generation, it is equally true for all.  How this fundamental truth plays out in attitudes and behaviour cannot be faked. People will see right through artifice.

The best leaders, managers and coaches know how to engage and leverage the natural abilities and learned skills of their people, balancing organizational achievement with the professional and personal needs of those who make it possible in the first place.

Leadership, management and coaching effectiveness can be measured, compared against your ideal view, and enhanced through our full complement of professional development programs. See our website for details and call us today!

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