Jun 5, 2016
2 minute read

Wearing Two Hats

Although it can be hard to distinguish the differences between a coach and a manager, especially when they are both described as “managing,” each role has a unique purpose and focus. The coach primarily develops people, whereas the manager is more dedicated to the company itself. To help you understand these roles, let’s examine the parallels between how they function in a company compared to a sports team.

On a baseball team, there are several coaches. Each is responsible for developing the players’ skills at batting, fielding, throwing, pitching, or running the bases. A coach spends their time in practice working with the players on fundamentals and technique. They are responsible for motivating the players to play as a team, which can be a challenge when working with a diverse group of personalities and talent. Each coach plays an active role in the game by giving players direction and feedback between the plays.

Wearing the hat of “coach” in a business setting requires many of the same methods used by those coaching sports. Business coaches have daily communication with their team members using fundamental business techniques and best practices in order to give support and guidance on how to handle business situations. They must look at each person as an individual in order to understand and help develop their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. Business coaches watch and listen to employees while they are active on the job so they can offer suggestions and praise. Just like a baseball coach never jumps into the game and bats for a player, the business coach should never jump in and do the employee’s job.

In baseball, the manager is responsible for the team’s strategy. The manager directs the team by telling the players where to play, when to take a pitch, and when to pitch around a batter. Their decisions are based on strategically studying the other team’s stats. The baseball manager’s priority is not to develop the players, but to win games with the players he has been given.

Wearing the hat of “manager” in business means you direct people on specific tasks that need to be accomplished in a set time frame. The manager looks at the company as a whole and analyzes reports to make key decisions about the direction the company. The manager will move people around to better serve the company’s needs based on their skill sets.

Unlike the baseball team that has separate roles for coaches and managers, the business world requires a manager to wear both hats, whether working for a large corporation or a small company. Your success as both requires you to understand exactly when each hat should be worn. This takes skill and practice, but is easier when you assess situations by asking yourself whether you need to focus on coaching, inspiring and leading individuals to develop their abilities to make the team stronger, or focus on strategy, control and directing the strengths of your team as a whole. When you practice making that distinction, it will be easier for you to wear the right hat at the right time.