Why I Coach, Not Manage

Coaching is founded on the potential to improve.

Management suggests a burden and a need to temper.

Coaching suggests there’s limitless potential if you’re just pushed a little harder.

Management implies boundaries. Management is a task. Not a way of engaging.

Coaching connotes a human relationship rooted in care and concern for those whom you’re coaching.

This is why I coach, not manage my teams.


No, this post will not be an addition to the litany of sports references in people “management” literature. I won’t be talking about winning measured in inches or at bats or Buzzer-beaters.

Coaching to me is personal. So I’ll use an extended music metaphor instead.

My team is Beyoncé and I’m the roadie.

If I’m coaching well, I’m in the shadows, dressed in black, hanging lights, checking sound, tuning instruments. My job is to make the talent on my team shine, not take credit for what they do.

I watch the stage. I watch the audience. I watch the exits. Are there people leaving during one of the biggest numbers? Or maybe everyone’s grabbing a beer when she diverges from her greatest hits? I’ll give that feedback immediately after the performance so that next time, she keeps them glued to their seats. Next time, they won’t want to leave because FOMO. Next time, they just might be moved to tears.

My team is Beyoncé and I’m building the tour route.

My granddad always tells me to “hit ‘Em where thy ain’t” and I told you this wouldn’t include sports references, so I’ll quickly move off. But as I’m building the tour route for my team, I want to get gigs where they’re going, not where people expect them to be; where secret shows pop up and generate incredible demand; where bootleggers will be chomping at the bit to get a line into the soundboard to record what my team is dropping that night. Location, location, location. My goal is to get my team in the right place, at the right time to shine.

My team is Beyoncé and I’m the tour producer.

Details. I want my team to look good, sound good and perform well. Luck comes to the prepared mind and I want to help them prepare every last bit. What’s the set list? How will I open the show? What’s my back up plan if something goes unexpectedly different than what we planned? What surprises will I throw in to keep people singing with me? Whom do I thank at the end of the show?

It’s not my role to answer these questions for my team. My role is to ask them.

My team is Beyoncé and I want to sell out their shows.

I’ll sell tickets for them, market the hell out of what they do, tell people how great they are and how they don’t want to miss the next performance. But marketing is only as good as the actual experience. My team has to do it for themselves. I will advocate. They will be accountable for delivering. I can’t do it for them, but I will push them to be as great as they can be. To be as great as the great performers we’ve seen in the world. To be Beyoncé, if they want to be.


Do you manage or coach? Think about it today.

Learn more about Timshel.