Managing vs. coaching

Managers and coaches aren’t the same thing. In some organizations, though, coaching is used by effective managers. We explain the distinction below.
Being a manager is a more directive and transactional role than being a coach. Managers oversee the work of their employees, come up with plans, and tell or direct the employees on what to do. They determine direction and the immediate need, and fix the problems with a specific outcome. In other words, managers tend to be more self-focused.
A coach is a more consultative, employee-focused role that supports employees looking at their current and future reality. Coaches focus on asking questions to help the employee uncover the root of a problem and come up with an action plan themselves, rather than telling the employee the plan to follow. They encourage the employee to determine the problem and solution themselves.


  • Directive
  • Solution-focused
  • Determines problem & plan
  • Oversees employee work


  • Consultative
  • Employee-focused
  • Employee determines problem & plan
  • Supports employee’s work

Though the approach of a manager and coach are different, a manager can play both roles. In fact, in PI’s recent Manager survey, respondents ranked the coaching traits, “listens well, cares about me personally, cares about my career and development and lets me make decisions” in the top 20 traits of a great manager. A good manager just needs to know when to fill the manager or coaching role. Whichever role you’re filling, The Predictive Index has tools that support you, such as the Management Strategy Guide or the Coaching Guide.

To learn more about what makes a great (or bad) manager, check out PI’s Management Survey.

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