Common Characteristics That Separate a Coach from a Leader (Part 2)

Maura Mann, Vice President
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Although coaches and leaders have similar characteristics, they also have subtle differences. You want to instruct your team as well as inspire them. Learning to coach while leading helps your team and the company advance. You create the freedom and motivation to accomplish more than what seemed possible.

Here are four characteristics that separate coaches from leaders.


Coaches encourage their team to try new things. They know that discussing, developing, and implementing ideas, elevates engagement and job satisfaction. Coaches transform team members by leading through change. They understand that putting a plan into action increases collaboration and company loyalty. In contrast, leaders focus on what needs to be done, how it might be done, and when it needs to be completed.


Coaches empower their team. They encourage members to use their resourcefulness and insight to solve problems. Coaches ask team members to determine the best way to overcome obstacles and implement their plan. They encourage teammates to participate in opportunities to develop areas that need improvement. Coaches provide insight for altering team members’ behavior. They focus on developing blind spots to elevate individual and team output. Leaders train teams based on an agenda and set the curriculum. They provide knowledge of processes, procedures, and tasks required to complete projects. Conversely, leaders provide constructive feedback to improve team performance. They require compliance with implementing a performance enhancement plan.


Coaches promote looking at issues from other points of view. Changing how team members see things opens them up to different ways of doing things. They learn to view problems from various angles to provide solutions. Coaches teach teammates to overcome limited thinking and accomplish more than seemed possible.

Conversely, leaders often see things from their perspective. They may believe things need to be done one way rather than another. At times, leaders might expect their team to come in early, work through lunch, and stay late to meet a tight deadline rather than brainstorm a more efficient way to complete the work on time.


Coaches create an atmosphere of exploring ideas without concern for correction. They process information without judgment to help team members see things from different viewpoints. If coaches believe that some ideas may be more beneficial to the company than others, they guide the conversation in that direction. Conversely, leaders tend to focus on why certain ideas won’t work. They often are more interested in developing ideas that have greater odds of being successfully implemented.

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