The Coaching Effect Blog

What Makes Some Managers More Effective Than Others

Posted by Bill Eckstrom

November 21, 2019

Adapted from "The Coaching Effect"

We had many discoveries along the way as we sought to understand what made certain managers, leaders, and coaches more effective than others. These discoveries are the foundation of the coaching methods and best practices that we share in The Coaching Effect, but here are a few of our most exciting insights:

1) We discovered that high-growth managers perform specific activities whose effectiveness and execution can be measured. This insight was our most important initial discovery because it showed us that we could quantify what the best managers did differently. And if we could identify and measure coaching activities, then we could also educate other managers on what to do to increase their own effectiveness.

2) We discovered that high-growth managers not only have specific coaching activities they perform regularly, but also exhibit unique behaviors when coaching. A huge part of our research has come through surveying employees about their managers. As we saw how employees rated their coaches on dozens of different behaviors, it became obvious that high-growth managers simply coach in a different way.

3) We discovered that these successful coaching activities and behaviors could be quantified, taught, and implemented by those willing to change. As we measured managers over time, many over the course of years, we often saw significant changes in their activities and behaviors. Managers who focused on improving the quality and quantity of their coaching in turn had team members who gave them higher marks in their overall coaching acumen. And, not surprisingly, the managers’ measurable performance improved. For sales managers, it meant their teams sold more.

In spite of our excitement at all of these discoveries, one discovery we made was more significant than all the others—the discomfort factor. High-growth managers and leaders are not afraid to push, to demand, and to challenge to get their teams to perform. They don’t shy away from making their team members uncomfortable.

In fact, they relish it because they consciously or subconsciously know that growth can only occur in a state of discomfort. Their goal is to get the best possible performance out of the people they coach, and they must move beyond just being a nice manager to make it happen.

More on this topic can be found in my TEDx Talk on "Why Comfort Will Ruin Your Life." 

Perhaps the reason the discomfort factor was so significant is because it really surprised us. We had been measuring and quantifying coaching behavior of managers and leaders for a while, but there seemed to be a concept we were missing. And it wasn’t until we worked with a brilliant university professor, Dr. Mary Uhl-Bien, that we discovered what it was: the best coaches embrace or create an environment of discomfort to get those on their team to grow.

Coaching is hard and, candidly, most managers don’t do what it takes to be categorized as high-growth leader. When we refer to a high-growth leader or manager, we are referring to managers and leaders of teams that are producing in the top 20 percent of their coaching peers within the same company.

For example, in a sales department that has a team of one hundred managers, while we research them all, we separate the 20 highest-performing leaders measured by their team percent to goal. We then look for differences in coaching activity and behavior. The same goes for a company that has ten managers or leaders; we study them all but look for what is different about the top two.

When the top 20 percent are analyzed, these facts emerge:

  • They do 30 percent more coaching activities than the bottom 80 percent.
  • They coach with 18 percent better quality than the bottom 80 percent.
  • They coach teams that average 110 percent of goal, while the bottom 80 percent average 91 percent.
  • They coach teams that produce an average of $4.1 million more sales revenue than the bottom 80 percent.

Using our data, if an organization has 50 frontline managers, they can safely assume that forty of them, due to poor coaching, are leaving a combined $164 million in revenue on the table. Those figures should cause every leader to stop in their tracks and want to know more about what their managers are doing and how well they are doing it.

If you are one of those leaders who want to learn more about the effectiveness of your leaders, consider contacting us here. And as always, you can find our Amazon Best-Selling book on Amazon at anytime. 

The Coaching Effect


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