Coaching vs. Managing

Eli Portnoy
2 min readAug 20, 2018

--

Smart and ambitious people generally want career growth; which usually means promotions, more responsibility, and higher impact work. The story tends to unfold in a pretty consistent pattern. An individual contributor does great, takes on more, stretches him or herself, and eventually is tasked with managing others on the team. All of a sudden she is doing something totally new.

I am obsessed with this transition. I LOVE stretching people and giving them opportunities. And the best way to scale and leverage a smart and skilled person is by making them responsible for more.

But…

Most people misunderstand how the role changes when they become managers and more fundamentally, how they can be great managers. They think their job is to direct the people they manage. They want them to become mini-me’s. So they spend a lot of time overlooking their work, micro-managing them, and ultimately driving them crazy. They don’t let any of their work go out without being approved. They sit in all their meetings. They are like puppet masters, wanting to make sure they pull every string. I see this so often when a person starts managing a team. And I think the problem is that great “managers” should not be managing, they should be coaching. In fact, I hate the word manager. I prefer to call them leads.

Leads are teachers who help bring out the best in the people they work with. They give them context. They explain the broader picture. They pass on the knowledge and information they have. They give feedback. But they DO NOT try to do the persons work. They do not control. They do not try to manage the output.

So my advice to managers (or better yet, leads), want to be managers, and generally anyone who has people reporting to them. Think of yourself as a leader, a teacher and coach and stop managing and start empowering.

--

--

Eli Portnoy

CEO /co-founder @theSense360, previously founded and sold Thinknear.