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Monday, December 15, 2014

Coaching a Manager vs. an Individual Contributor

By Louisa Warren, Senior Practice Consultant, Gallup

The key difference when coaching a manager is that they are in a position to help and support others, and every strength they have has to be considered in the light of its impact on their team. Whilst their own goals, objectives and career plans can form the basis of one conversation, what is the difference they can make to their team through their strengths?  

I have had the opportunity to coach sales managers who were previously highly successful sales reps. An important question to begin with is, “What made you take the path of management?” Their response to this will give you a clue into which of their strengths matter the most in their new role. Whenever a manager has ‘Achiever’ in their top five, we talk about what success used to look like for them and what it looks like now. I have heard talented managers describe how they have a whole new outlook on their work, because the success of the individuals on their team now defines their own success. It is as if they are channeling that Achiever drive very differently. Conversely, I have also seen situations where the manager finds it hard to “let go” of the fact that it is no longer simply a case of setting and achieving their own goals and then speeding off to achieve them. Somewhere within themselves they need to find the resources to tune into others, to put others center stage, and take more of a back seat themselves.

A manager with high Competition has to be careful not to try to compete directly with their own team -- instead, they need to create an atmosphere in which people strive to win, both as individuals and as a team. Again, the same strength, but channelled differently. For those with particularly strong Competition, it might be necessary to use their sporting life as an extra outlet for their own need to win!

It may be important to consider the manager’s strengths first and foremost as an individual, and then through the lens of management -- as a leader of others. Circumstances change, but we take our strengths with us wherever we go. We don’t magically get a new set of themes to match the new job description. Start with clues to their success as an individual, then challenge them to think about how that success will look as a leader. Points to consider:

  • How do their themes help them to set goals (for self and others?)
  • How do their themes help them respond to the multiple demands of leadership?
  • Which themes enable them to communicate a powerful message?

Management is a different ballgame, but with the right coaching you can set a manager up for success -- to be a “talent multiplier” who will make a real difference to their team, both the individuals and the group, and help them achieve excellence.  

Louisa Warren is a Senior Practice Consultant at Gallup; she joined the company in 1991. Her primary areas of expertise are in recruitment and development. She uses her understanding of individual talent to position employees correctly in roles and help them fulfill their potential. Prior to joining Gallup, Louisa taught French and German in the secondary sector and later served as Assistant Director of the British Atlantic Committee, a NATO-affiliated organisation. A native English speaker, she is fluent in French and German and provides consulting to Gallup’s clients in these languages.

Louisa's top five strengths: Context | Harmony | Individualization | Arranger | Maximizer.

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