Business Workshop: To coach or not to coach

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Exceptional leaders are the foundation of every great business. Team members show great respect for extraordinary leaders, and leaders often achieve that respect by being aware of when to teach and when to coach.

Leaders should teach a team member when they have expressed that the task or responsibility at hand is new, or if they have not had any relevant experience in the area.

Coaching has a subtle but important difference. A leader coaches when the team member has some relevant experience in the task or responsibility, and is motivated to find a solution or wants to improve on a new or current area of responsibility.

If teaching is the best route, a great leader asks these important questions before beginning the process:

What resources and information do I need? How will I provide a three-to-one ratio of positive to corrective feedback?

When teaching, the leader will set an objective and demonstrate the process while providing requisite information. After, the employee will summarize what they are about to accomplish and the leader will observe the employee performing the task while providing feedback.

If you determined the employee needs coached, you should ask yourself these important questions:

What questions do I ask to understand the facts? What questions will I ask to get ideas, solutions and approaches from the team member?

While coaching, the leader will clarify underlying and obvious facts and work with the employee to agree on a goal. He or she will then facilitate possible solutions, approaches and guide the employee on the best options.

To have a great organization, you need a great leader to forge the path. Knowing when to teach and when to coach will ensure the leader has a strong team to complement his or her efforts on that path.

-- Len Petrancosta, The Leadership Quest by Peak Performance Management,


Business Workshop is a weekly feature from local experts offering tidbits on matters affecting business. To contribute, contact Business Editor Brian Hyslop at


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