Management & leadership

Tri-Coaching Instead of Managing

If 3 is ‘the magic number’, this trio of tips should help you conjure up some coaching skills to add to your management repertoire. 

Why “Tri” coaching? Well, 3 is a very brain-friendly number. The allure of the number 3 lies in its simplicity, cultural significance and ability to create patterns that resonate with us. Examples occur in religion; Egyptian Triads of Gods, The Trimurti in Hinduism, and The Holy Trinity in Christianity. They also occur in common expressions; 3 strikes and you’re out, 3 wise monkeys or third time lucky, and in performance feedback frameworks; The 3 Step Model (Focus on Facts, Fallout, Future). 

When it comes to learning and development, coaching is also very brain-friendly, as it aligns with key principles of neuroscience.Here’s why: 

  • Through coaching individuals can create new neural pathways, strengthening existing connections. 
  • Some coaching approaches integrate mindfulness practices, which promotes self-awareness, emotional regulation and cognitive flexibility. 
  • Coaching promotes trust and inclusion (as it is coachee led),this activates brain regions associated with positive social interactions 

Sticking with the theme of 3, let’s look at other trios which make the case for coaching. 

3 Distinctions: coaching versus management 

  • Management tells, coaching asks. 
  • Management delegates, coaching creates learning opportunities. 
  • Management deals with the work, coaching support deals with the worker 

3 Benefits of coaching  

  • Coaching creates a self-directed learning environment. 
  • Coaching creates a collaborative and creative thinking approach to problem-solving. 
  • Coaching creates new leaders, with critical thinking skills. 

3 Key Skills for a Manager as Coach 

  • Effective Communication: coaching relies on effective questioning and extraordinary listening skills. 
  • Constructive Feedback: coaching requires observation of behaviour and judgement-free feedback. 
  • Personal Reflection: coaching promotes self-awareness and personal development. 

3 Ways to improve your coaching skills 

  • Explore the principles of Emotional Intelligence and identify areas for learning and development. 
  • Foster a purpose-driven, goal-oriented environment in which people can connect individual performance to organisational impact and success. 
  • Embrace failure: mistakes are mis-takes and opportunities for feedback and improvement. 

3 Great coaching questions to get you started

If you want to provide a space where people can solve their own problems and get out of their own way, try these alternatives to commonly used (often unhelpful) questions managers ask. 

  1. Don’t ask “Why did you do that?”, ask “What happened?” People will respond differently if the question isn’t loaded with blame. 
  2. Don’t ask “What are you going to do about it?” ask “If there was one thing you could do what could that be?” This frees the mind and brain to get creative and see possibilities rather than limits. 
  3. Don’t say “OK, I’ve heard you” ask, “Anything else” Ask it a few times – it’s remarkable how much more people sometimes want to say! 

The days of distant managers who pass down commands from above are gone (well, they’re at least very much on the decline.)  Organisations and good employers are recognising that we humans respond rather well to empathy, support, inclusion and autonomy. Employees, especially in the not-for-profit sector, don’t just want to do or keep their job,they are motivated by being a part of something bigger than themselves and to feel the impact they can have on social change.  

Great leadership is about creating belonging and cultivating environments in which people can find their motivations and fulfil their aspirations. A coaching approach to managing and leading others supports all these things and leaders for now and the future will do well to adopt coaching approaches to release and grow the talent in their teams.  

If you need a final 3 to convince you of the case for coaching: 

If you have your own leadership challenges you would like to unravel, coaching might be the magic spell to help you explore and resolve them. 

Contact me at  [email protected] 



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