Why Your Clients Need More Coaching Than Management

Dan Sullivan
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Why The Modern World Needs More Coaches Than Managers

There are big differences between management and coaching, and whether someone needs one or the other depends on where they are in their growth as an individual.

If you live in a prosperous economy, and the political system you’re in supports individualism, the period of your life where you’ll want to be managed is going to be short.

Unpredictable futures.

You’ll only respect management that can prepare you for a future that’s predictable.

I remember my first grade teacher saying, “The reason why you’re learning reading, writing, and arithmetic is because 12 years from now, when you graduate from the school and go out into the marketplace, this is what’s going to be required of you.”

She’d been right about that, but that was back in 1950, when the workplace that people would be entering into was not much different than the school system. It was basically the same structure and the same rules.

I doubt that a first grade teacher today can predict for six-year-olds what’s going to be expected of them once they’ve finished school, because now that we’re in the digital world, the rules for getting along are totally different. The kind of predictability that was built into the educational system hasn’t survived into the current age.

We’re switching over more and more to a model where children are given enough management to the point where they can self-manage, enough monitoring to the point where they can self-monitor, and enough motivation within the structure that they can motivate themselves outside of the structure.

We’re switching over to where you have to have the capability to do things yourself, and what’s coming into play is a coaching structure and process instead of a management structure and process.

In other words, there will be a period of time where you’ll just do what the structure and process tells you to do so you can get used to being in a structure and process, and then, as soon as you can, you’ll choose to start taking on self-structuring and self-processing.

You’re still going to need an external guide for this, but now, instead of being told, you’re being asked.

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Questions and answers.

You’ll move from childhood to adulthood, from where others give you the answers to where others give you the questions and you provide the answers.

The better the questions, the better the answers, and those people who are good at asking great questions so you can create your own great answers are coaches.

Beyond the basics.

The individuals who have the hardest time in transitioning from a managing style to a coaching role are the ones who have gone through a long period of training in a profession, and they have credentials that say they have the answers. And so they go out and try to sell their answers to clients.

Some answers are necessary, but those answers are relatively basic.

I’ve seen many entrepreneurs hit a wall in their own growth when they don’t have anything beyond the answers they already know. They don’t have any questions to provide to their clients that go beyond those answers. And they don’t understand why they aren’t getting any better as entrepreneurs.

Their whole lives have been about answers within predictable structures and processes. They don’t know how to operate outside of that.

The answers get you into the pool, but the answers don’t actually teach you how to swim.

Everybody needs to have the basics of a skill in order to get started, but after a certain point, it’s your own questioning and wondering that will take you to the interesting places you want to go.

And when you question, it’s not because something’s necessarily missing. It’s more often about questioning how something can be taken further than the answers that are already known. It’s questioning how we can get beyond the existing answers into whole new areas of creativity and productivity.

If that’s your relationship with the marketplace, you’re going to be naturally inclined to build creative relationships with your customers and clients, and you’re going to want to engage in the same type of relationships with your team members.

I know that I definitely want to always have the same kind of teamwork within my company as I do with my customers and clients.

I truly believe that coaching is going to be for the 21st century what management was in the 20th century, and this is why we need to think differently about what we’re doing.

The world is insisting that if you’re going to be rewarded, you have to be creating something beyond a basic result.

But you can’t be managed into extraordinary growth and success. That requires great coaching.

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