IPMA International Project Management Association
11 February 2021 / 10:00

Coaching, a manager way to freedom

“Being coached helped me realized that I could make the biggest difference as a leader not by doing more than everyone else, but by empowering other people to do more and motivating them to do their best.”

This self-reflection from the Guide to Coaching Employees by Harvard Business Review clearly states why coaching as a practice for all leaders is a big help.

I mean, not just for a manager to have a coach to perform better but also to be a coach to help a team perform better.

I have observed during my career two kinds of managers so far. A manager who incline to I COMMAND, YOU OBEY style of management, trying to control everything. And managers who incline to I SUPPORT, YOU EXECUTE kind of management, ensuring that their people have everything under control.

I guess you know such managers too. Let me explain what I mean.

I COMMAND, YOU OBEY.

As managers, they get people to rely on their opinion. Nothing is done until they decide. What people do without involving them is usually not good enough.

I assume that this way of managing gives the manager a feeling that everything is under control. That feeling, however, is false. They miss two crucial aspects.

Firstly, I imagine those managers are very occupied; people keep coming to them for answers instead of finding their solutions. They want to have control because simply no one can do a better job than they do. Taking care of everything is like taking care of nothing. Taking care of many activities cuts the time managers need to dedicate to the core or strategic activities.

Secondly, such a company is not sustainable, as it relies on some individuals to decide and drive all. People wait for approval, as they want to avoid possible mistakes. What is even worse, people don’t learn how to react and solve problems by themselves.

When those “key “players leave the company, the company will bankrupt, or what is more common, the company will finally prosper.

I was in that role as well. As a junior project manager, I wanted everything to be perfect on my very first projects. I studied a lot about the topic. I executed many tasks on the project by myself, and overall I became good at project execution. Unfortunately, not good at project management, not good at leading the team. Then I realized that in the end, it eats up quite a lot of my time. I was exhausted. Not satisfied with results, not delivering in time, and what was the worst, I was losing team engagement. After a certain time, I realized that I don’t need to have all the answers; I just needed to ask the right questions. In short, I came to realize that effective leading looks a lot like coaching.

I SUPPORT, YOU EXECUTE.

As managers, they set the overall direction for their people and let them figure out how best to get there. Those managers ask employees questions to help them fulfil their immediate responsibilities more effectively. Those managers apply coaching into their management, on purpose or even not.

I can think of at least two main benefits such management brings.

Firstly, managers can let go of certain responsibilities and focus on more strategic issues, positively impacting the business. Simply, achieve more by spending less time at the office.

Secondly, empowering people and making them accountable for their actions will advance their development as professionals over time. Meaning, that such a manager can leave a company or a  project with the confidence that the management team would adjust seamlessly. The business will continue to thrive.

I can tell you; this is definitely worth fighting for. When founding and developing IPMA Young Crew Slovakia, I tried to set the direction and then support my team from the early beginning. Yes, not everything was perfect, not everything was always on time, but we achieved great things overall. We accomplished everything as a team. Today, I am not involved in Young Crew activities anymore, but they still do great stuff. And honestly, it gives me great satisfaction to see that what I helped to build still thrive.

Everyone can choose what works best for him. I have observed that I COMMAND, YOU OBEY style does not fit my personality and does not bring sustainable results. I am still learning, so I might change my perspective; however, I prefer an I SUPPORT, YOU EXECUTE style. I firmly believe that it brings me freedom by focusing only on strategic topics, empowering people to their job, and ensuring that what I do will sustain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Marek Demcak

Author of this post

Marek works as a LEAN focused Coach at Vaillant Group. His primary responsibility is to design systems to drive and to navigate cultural change towards a culture of continuous improvement. Marek develops his coaching practices in the industrial plants of the Vaillant Group in Slovakia and England.

Besides his love for cultural transformation and process improvement, he is very enthusiastic about project management. Marek founded and developed IPMA Young Crew in Slovakia. As the Management Board Member, he co-developed IPMA Slovakia by taking care of Marketing and Communication. In between 2019 and 2021, he was also the Management Board Member of Young Crew Global, responsible for the Global Young Crew Workshop and Coaches and Mentors program.

Marek has several hobbies. One of them is writing. To develop this skill, Marek writes about Coaching, Culture, Behaviors, and Project Manager Practice.

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