“For Coach!” the quarterback barked. “For Coach!” the team responded in a chorus of voices. They repeated the slogan again and again, then they put their hands into the circle—and with one great yell they took the field.
This might have been a scene from a movie or a book—or it might have been your own collegiate or high school experience. Regardless, it’s the kind of moment when the message transcends the (wo)man. It’s the goal of every leader: Message transcends messenger. Generally, in business settings, when the manager is out of the office, it’s often a time of high celebration, because the messenger and his message are far from transcendent. It is not often you hear the cheer, “Let’s do it for the manager!” It just does not happen in most business/managerial settings. Check out this six reasons the team loves the coach and not the manager.
1. Coaches Teach and Manager Tell
Professional sports aside, coaches traditionally only appear in academic settings. True coaching is teaching and true leadership requires a level of instruction and learning. The sole purpose of academia is to enrich the student and promote learning, which means the coach is trying to help the student improve his or her skills.
Team members don’t root for the manager, because s/he is not perceived to be helping them improve skills or learn. The bottom line is that if employees do not feel there is mutual benefit for professional growth, the work becomes task oriented. Task oriented work models are horizontal models that promise more of the same (ad infinitude). The coach/teaching model is vertical; it assumes the player (with the help of the coach) will improve his or her skill in order to reach a higher level of expertise.
2. Coaches Link Individual Growth with Team Victory
In sports, the athlete knows that his mastery of a skill may help his team to win a victory or a championship. His development is directly related to the advancement of his team through enrichment of personal skills. He understands that the coach’s methods and tactics are designed to help him to improve to win a victory.
Conversely, in most businesses employee performance is linked with company growth. This means, that if an employee’s performance steadily increases, even though his/her professional growth stagnates, the company is unconcerned. When company/management is only interested in performance over development, team members grow disillusioned and turn inward toward disengagement, methods of escape or self-interest at company expense. Coaches know that growth will lead to performance.
3. Coaches Harness the Power of Positive Passion
Coaches also recognize and promote team members that bring positive energy to the group—not just number-crunchers and “top performers.” Managers only recognize people who make big numbers. Coaches know that even though the goalie doesn’t score many goals, s/he is still valuable to the team.
People who genuinely bring positive energy to your group dynamic are priceless. Coaches even have cheerleaders specifically for their team creating slogans, chants and ideas that motivate and excite players to action. Coaches know that giving positive feedback is important, as well as getting their team excited about the possibility of a win or a championship. Managers, however, delineate rules and directives, often remaining cool and impersonal and give positive feedback in short supply.