Is Strength Coaching the ultimate management practice?

Is Strength Coaching the ultimate management practice?

Historically, managers have given orders to those who work for them – a command-and-control style of management. The world has changed and today, employees want a manager who cares and intends to invest time in their personal and professional development. They want frequent feedback, when it is warranted, and as close to the event and time. Employees are looking for opportunities to do more of what they do best – that is, work to their strengths.
In today’s world, the best way to raise employee’s engagement is to coach them, rather than act as their boss.

Three focus areas as a Coach:

1. Be more curious

Coaching starts with asking more and telling less — becoming more inquisitive about employees as human beings. What do your employees need? What are their strengths? What are their goals?
The best coaches display a genuine interest in the individual by asking coach-like questions on a regular basis. For example, in a 10-minute conversation, a manager might ask an employee: “What’s going well for you today (and what isn’t)? How can I best support you?”
The best coaches listen to understand. They listen to truly comprehend employees’ circumstances, goals, challenges and needs.

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2. Be supportive through natural conversations.

Coaches are curious for a reason: They use discoveries about employees’ motivations, concerns and aspirations to demonstrate care and dismantle barriers to performance and engagement.
Making these discoveries doesn’t require sophisticated coaching models or a prefabricated agenda of questions. Rather, meaningful coaching conversations are often informal and flow naturally depending on the employee’s needs. For example, a coach might ask about a recent success with questions such as: “What are you most proud of about that achievement (and why)?” And then use that information to help the individual apply their natural gifts more often.

The point is to have an authentic, ongoing dialogue with the individual to identify their top concerns and show support accordingly.
To support the managers’ intention to coach their employees, we follow the five coaching conversations structure that get to the heart of the issues that most influence employees’ engagement, performance and development. The five conversations are designed with partnership in mind with trusting relationships as a foundation. 

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Is Strength Coaching
3. Focus on performance, strengths and engagement

Coaching isn’t about “taking it easy” on employees or abandoning performance standards. Quite the opposite: coaches set clear expectations and performance goals, and they hold employees accountable for those targets. Coaches are future focused when it comes to performance — whereas bosses typically look for errors and punish performance mistakes.
Great coaches also focus on each worker’s unique strengths, which helps them individualise their management style. By emphasising employees’ strengths, coaches cultivate employees’ natural abilities and position teams for excellence.
The best coaches also prioritise individual and team engagement — knowing that their role is to create an environment that energises and inspires employees. To this end, great coaches track their employees’ workplace needs and respond with action and accountability.
At every turn, coaches emphasise what is possible which fuels development and encourages employees to take ownership for their engagement and performance.

The Leadership Responsibility

For leaders, preparing managers to coach requires more than asking them to start coaching. Like all employees, managers look to their leaders to set the foundation by providing the resources, development and accountability managers need.

Here are three actions leaders should take today:

1. Be a coach for managers.

To abandon traditional bossing and start coaching, managers need coaching themselves from leaders who genuinely care. When leaders support managers, they can make coaching systemic in their organization — part of “how we do things around here” (the culture) — and equip managers to succeed.

2. Change managers’ job expectations.

Excessive complicated administrative tasks make it difficult for managers to prioritise conversations with employees. Managers who are overworked and have burnout will find it difficult to have enthusiasm for coaching. In fact, reducing administrative tasks could better engage your best managers. This is why leaders must redefine and clarify managers’ role, expectations and performance metrics. Leaders do not have to design a whole new management structure; they can just modify expectations and resources to align with coaching goals.

3. Give managers the development they need.

Managers need development experiences that make coaching second nature. When manager development is rooted in science, and the program is effectively designed and implemented it reframes manager’s thinking, boosts their confidence and instills coaching behaviours that actually work.
People join companies, but they leave because of the managers. Because today’s employees demand something different from their job, coaching is a must for managers. Plus, coaching creates an environment of high development, which is the most productive type of culture for your business and your employees. Coaching accelerates everything from collaboration and agility to performance and productivity.
But coaching shouldn’t feel intimidating. It should be simple, practical, rewarding — and even fun. The good news is coaching becomes approachable when managers have access to proven development programs.
Strength Coaching Program for Team Leaders at International Coaching Education, ICE transforms managers’ coaching abilities, giving them the mindset and skills they need to adopt and implement coaching behaviors.
Best of all, coaches have a ripple effect that extends beyond business measures like profits or sales. When managers serve as coaches, they can improve employees’ lives and wellbeing.

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Taymour Miri (MCC, Gallup Strengths Coach)
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