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Why most managers need a leadership coach

If at any point while you read this post, you disagree with any of my statements, go ahead and click the “Leave a Comment” link. Express yourself!

Image provided by Dunechaser

While the original title of my post was “Why most software development managers need a leadership coach”, I changed it to “Why most managers need a leadership coach” because the situation I have witnessed in the software development industry is also present in many others specialized fields of expertise – at least that’s what many of the people I speak with confirm. Nonetheless, in order not to generalize my assumptions (yet!), I will share my assessment of the people management and leadership capabilities within the software development industry. Let’s begin…

Are you familiar with such problems?

These are only a handful of typical problems encountered by a manager and for most experienced managers, they may sound trivial. Considering that new leaders are not born with management abilities, how can we expect them to be successful in their role?

People managers lack the basic skills

Here’s why I believe most software development managers (and many others) need coaching to become successful in their role (and apparently, I am not the only one who believes this is a valid suggestion). My logic goes as follows:

  • Managers – including software development managers – are people;
  • There are 2 ways to become successful at something. Either you learn through education or you possess above average intuition and intelligence and can figure out how things need to be done;
  • Most software development managers have a technical training /education (examples can be seen here, here, here, and here);
  • In addition to their education background, most software development managers mostly played technical roles (software developers, business analysts, application architect, etc.) in their career prior to getting promoted to a management position;
  • Most people management positions are complex and require knowledge and experience outside of technology such as Business, Leadership, People Management, Organizational Development, or Psychology;
  • Very few people in people management positions have all the requirements (see previous bullet);
  • Without prior education and experience outside the software development sector, most managers are ill-equipped to successfully perform in their role.

Coaching is a solution

With an average salary1 of $85,000 to $125,000 depending on the number of years of experience and location, why wouldn’t an organization invest a few thousands of dollars to hire a coach in order to help develop the people management and leadership abilities? Despite the economic downturn, I still see organizations spend thousands of dollars on training or conferences. Although I don’t argue the value of such events, I doubt they support the development of people management and leadership abilities.

It seems to me that we need to help those in management position succeed. Otherwise, the performance of the entire team will suffer.

Not convinced?

Others seem to agree with this new trend…

1.- Sources:

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7 Comments Post a comment
  1. mb #

    Historiquement, les organisations pouvaient se permettre d’avoir un plus grand nombres de paliers hiérarchiques, ce qui permettait au premier niveau de promotion d’apprendre graduellement son métier de gestionnaire en travaillant avec un supérieur d’expérience. Il était son coach. De plus, dans nos organisations de l’époque, il n’était pas nécessaire de maîtriser les expertises du monde des RH, on vous disait ce qu’il fallait faire et les gens s’exécutaient. Dans un tel contexte, on donnait la promotion au plus performant et sa responsabilité première était de transférer ses connaissances et de s’assurer que les choses étaient faites correctement. Les choses ont bien changé et si cela fonctionnait dans un monde d’immobilisme ou tout ou presque était prévisible, il en va tout autrement dans un monde en perpétuel turbulence.
    J’endosse ton analyse sur le coaching, mais je pense qu’il faut aussi s’assurer qu’on a la bonne personne dans le siège de gestion. Les compétences et habiletés en gestion ne sont pas les mêmes que pour le travail de réalisation. C’est une profession en soit, indépendamment du domaine. Ce n’est donc pas spécifique au domaine du développement logiciel. On fait continuellement l’erreur de croire qu’un expert du domaine va nécessairement être un bon gestionnaire dans ce domaine. Cette présomption est tout à fait fausse. Commençons à faire les choses correctement. Un bon coach devrait être capable d’amener la réflexion sur tous ces aspects.

    February 17, 2010
    • Ton commentaire est tout à fait pertinent. Compte tenu du fait qu’il y a de moins en moins de niveaux hiérarchiques, le coaching professionnel devient ainsi un bon moyen d’aider les gestionnaires non-expérimentés à développer les compétences requises pour assurer une bonne performance de l’équipe.

      Merci pour ton commentaire MB.

      February 17, 2010
  2. Well I happen to agree with you, specially in the software development sector. “…most managers are ill-equipped to successfully perform in their role.” Most assume leadership simply by being the senior analyst, software developer, etc. There are many leadership programs and these are effective to some extent depending on the attitude of the manager trainee. If he looks at it as a routine training program that he has to undergo by virtue of his promotion, then the leadership skill he would have learned stays in that forum and not taken with him to the workplace. But if he treats the training as an opportunity grow, then it becomes effective.
    Coaching definitely will be very effective one hundred percent.

    August 17, 2010

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Coaching Your Coach: How to Deal with a Boss
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  3. Why most managers need a leadership coach | Analytical-Mind | Drakz News Station
  4. Link Building Coaching | 7Wins.eu

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