Coaching vs. Managing: Definitions, Differences and Tips

The terms coaching and managing are often used interchangeably, but that doesn’t suppose they mean the same thing. While a manager typically organizes the work and processes to deliver results, a coach drives team performance and helps people get to their next level of effectiveness.

Managing vs. Coaching

What is managing?

Managing is the activity of supervising the work of others. Managers are task-oriented leaders who direct the team’s work flow to achieve organizational objectives. This kind of work is typically results-driven, meaning that it uses management to carry out particular initiatives using measurable metrics. In essence, managers oversee task delegation while keeping an eye on workflow development.

Frequently, managing requires people to have exceptional problem-solving abilities and the capacity to take charge when controversies arise. As a result, managing is a useful tactic to use when teams encounter obstacles in their processes. Managers take on the role of directing and training others on how to proceed. Managers must act with tenacity, purpose, and promptness if they are to succeed in their position. On a day-to-day basis, managers may exercise the following duties:

What is coaching?

The goal of coaching is to support team members in improving their skills and competencies. Coaching is a form of reciprocal leadership. The majority of the time, coaching entails two people—typically a leader and a team member—engaging in two-way communication processes in order to approach workflow inconsistencies and find solutions together. Coaching is frequently used as a strategy to assist staff members in developing the crucial soft skills and critical thinking abilities required to make wise decisions, form good judgments, produce high-quality work, collaborate with coworkers, and form sound judgments.

The main objective of coaching is frequently for managers to assist staff in achieving productive independence in the workplace. This trait can help staff members become more productive, independent, and problem-solvers.

As a result, coaching calls for managers to build trusting relationships with staff members and give them the freedom to choose how to complete tasks. In order to do this, coaches must try to be open with their colleagues and motivate them to become more invested in their work. On a day-to-day basis, coaches may exercise the following duties:

Differences between coaching and managing

There are two distinct methods for leading a team: managing and coaching. Most of the time, coaching is thought of as a longer-term, more successful leadership tactic than managing. This is because managing is more heavily focused on immediate results, whereas coaching encourages employees to make overall progress and develop their skills.

Coaching is a helpful leadership strategy to use in less urgent situations, even though leaders occasionally need to use management strategies to meet pressing deadlines, attend to particular needs, or finish highly specialized tasks. Here are some of the key distinctions between managing and coaching to help you comprehend the circumstances in which these tactics may be helpful:

Feedback processes

As part of the coaching process, leaders must be receptive to receiving and providing feedback on a regular basis. Coaches typically create the organizational framework to support feedback procedures that eliminate the conventional obstacles that less experienced colleagues may encounter when providing vertical feedback. Building trusting working relationships, which is a crucial quality of growth-oriented organizations, can be incredibly helpful with this.

Coaches understand that when team members feel comfortable providing feedback, they’re more likely to be open with leadership about their unique needs, and when leaders are aware of these needs, they can take proactive measures to meet those needs.

Team members may feel more supported by leaders and satisfied with their roles as a result. Managers, in contrast, tend to be less receptive to feedback and may only use top-down feedback techniques. This means that managers who don’t participate in coaching may occasionally miss out on opportunities to support the growth of their team members and may make significant mistakes when it comes to attending to their needs.

Overall growth vs. immediate results

Results-oriented leaders are frequently those who use managing as their primary tactic for fostering success in their teams. Within the parameters of particular projects, they direct workflow processes to assist teams in achieving immediate and measurable goals. This can be very helpful in high-stakes and quick-paced situations where leaders must be decisive when instructing team members to complete tasks as necessary. However, unlike coaching, this style of team leadership rarely fosters overall employee development or skill acquisition.

Employees who participate in coaching are able to commit to challenging, long-term growth processes while also addressing urgent organizational needs. This indicates that, in some circumstances, coaching takes longer than managing and may cause some day-to-day workflow inefficiencies for organizations as they work to achieve employee growth. Despite this, coaches may still understand that encouraging employee growth is an important long-term objective that may not be attained right away but rather through trial and error.

Problem-solving mechanisms

In terms of how they approach resolving issues at work, coaching and managing take very different approaches. When there are problems with the workflow, managers typically act as the team’s go-to problem-solver. This gives managers the ability to quickly resolve issues and keep team members moving through their tasks in order to accomplish particular goals.

To make sure their team members don’t encounter any additional obstacles to completing their own delegated tasks, managers in some circumstances may even take on additional responsibilities or higher-level tasks. This kind of leadership approach can be beneficial, particularly when teams must quickly find solutions.

In contrast, leaders who engage in coaching use less directive problem-solving techniques. When identifying solutions to workflow inconsistencies, they may work with their team members and defer to more junior colleagues to suggest solutions.

In general, coaches are more likely to experiment with novel, unconventional solutions than to use their position of authority to keep the flow of work moving. Although this problem-solving process might take longer than the one previously described, such mechanisms encourage employees to develop their own problem-solving abilities.


Coaching is a highly communicative leadership approach that promotes open communication between team members and leaders about their objectives and needs. In order to find the best ways to foster team growth and efficiency, leaders who coach their employees frequently commit to mutual communication processes where both parties can engage in active listening and solution-oriented thinking. These discussions form the basis of coaching and are intended to get staff members more involved in their work.

Managing is a less collaborative leadership style where team members are typically responsible for alerting leaders to inconsistencies in workflow, who then resolve issues on their own. Although managers may communicate expectations and issue orders, they rarely engage in open or reciprocal communication with their teams. As a result, managing would be conceptualized as using one-way communication techniques if coaching were to use two-way communication as a foundation.


According to team members’ strengths or specialized roles, managers who lead teams typically create workflow processes and assign specific tasks to team members. This enables leaders to design concrete, doable tasks for team members. Additionally, it enables them to efficiently manage workflow procedures, track advancement, assess success, and take appropriate action when necessary.

In order to achieve goals, coaches may permit team members to create their own workflow processes, volunteer for specific tasks they’re interested in, and keep track of their own progress. As a result, coaching can occasionally be a less effective method of setting up workflow procedures, particularly when a team has new members or needs to tackle a challenging task. With this, however, a team may progress more quickly in achieving goals and may no longer require delegation as they learn how to collaborate effectively.

Self-reliance vs. direct instruction

One of the main objectives of coaching is to support team members’ growth in independence. The goal of coaching is to develop independent, critical thinkers who can make important decisions and find solutions on their own for the team. Leaders who engage in coaching may let their less experienced team members face difficulties as a way of teaching them how to deal with similar circumstances in the future. Coaches understand that while this process may be time-consuming and result in temporary workflow inefficiencies as team members gain more confidence in their capacity to carry out goals.

Comparatively, managing is more focused on top-down leadership techniques and direct instruction. Managers risk missing out on opportunities to motivate their teams and help them acquire the soft skills needed for independence. Employees typically look to managers in these circumstances to make crucial decisions, direct workflow with clear instructions, and act quickly when problems arise.

Tips for balancing coaching and managing

A combination of coaching and management techniques must be used by effective leaders to direct their teams toward producing high-quality work. By combining these two tactics, supervisors can efficiently manage workflow while promoting long-term development in their less experienced employees. Although they are somewhat different styles of leadership, coaching and managing can be difficult to balance in this situation. This is especially true for leaders who work in environments that are demanding and fast-paced.

Despite this, by making a conscious effort to do so, all leaders can promote a balance between managing and coaching. You can attempt to incorporate various levels of coaching and managing into your leadership processes, depending on your industry, organization, and the type of work you must complete on a daily basis. Here are a few quick suggestions for how to balance managing and coaching as a leader:


What is the difference between managing and coaching Agile coaching?

While managers work to establish order and organization in their lives and careers, coaches foster trust and long-lasting relationships. Leaders attract change.

Is a manager higher than a coach?

As previously mentioned, managing is a one-way communication style that entails giving the team instructions. On the other hand, coaching relies on an open and two-way communication style that helps the team develop self-assurance, professional skills, and independence.

What is the difference between coaching and performance management?

Compared to coaching, managing is a more directive and transactional role. Managers supervise the work of their staff, develop plans, and give advice to staff members. They decide on a course of action, identify an urgent need, and solve the issues with a predetermined result.

What is the difference between coaching and directing?

While successful coaching programs focus on feeding forward, traditional performance management systems provide feedback. They develop a plan for learning from and improving upon the past rather than just reviewing what has already occurred.

What is coaching as a manager?

Telling (Directing) is for people who need guidance and motivation. This calls for one-way communication, detailed instructions, and transparency regarding the repercussions of failure. The task is made clear, milestones are established, output is monitored, feedback is given, and rewards are given. Selling (Coaching) is for workers who want to learn.

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