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Case Study: Exploring Coaching Options

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 Coaching was not the best solution for the problem to be solved. Whilst Manoel offered promise and potential, the main issue was not rooted in behavioral gaps. Yes, there were breaches in behavior and misperceptions by colleagues; however, the driving issue was a major technical skill deficiency. Manoel was considered brilliant in finance, business negotiations and client facing advocacy but he had never had formal responsibility to lead a project team nor utilize project management software.

Without advanced expertise with project management tools or knowledge of how to use a project management system, Manoel was floundering. And, he was scared.

Before focusing on performance and leadership behaviors, he simply needed to gain proficiency with the very best tools and apps in order to get his arms around the heavy lifting of project management. Concentrating on coaching to produce behavioral changes and improve performance would not fill in the skills gap he so desperately needed to mitigate.

The data showed that he was superior at zooming out to 30,000 feet to get the big picture, but he needed the tools at ground level to ensure the success of the project team. Software would help him to keep on track with the project and concentrate on leading the project team through immediate project tasks.

 Such software enables a leader and project members to keep an eye on details that bring a project to fruition by successfully completing the daily work that needs to be done. For example, the software can automatically reschedule a task when there is a change in the schedule. And, the system can generate reports for Manoel to see if project members have too many or too few tasks.


 In this case, coaching does not make sense as Manoel has a technical skill gap that is getting in the way of his daily functioning in his current assignment. Training will add more immediate value. After he is up to speed and fully functional in a project management tool and system, then coaching for leadership development can certainly be considered.

Whilst he has a conceptual comprehension of projects along with well-developed business acumen and financial knowledge, Manoel lacks a technical skill that can aid him to succeed as the project leader.

The feedback from project team members describes his lack of leadership competence that, if present, would foster collaboration and his inability to direct a project. These perceptions are accurate in terms of the impact Manoel has on his colleagues. Nevertheless, the observed behaviors are symptoms stemming from a lack of technical skill.

 To immediately facilitate his improvement, focusing on learning a technical skill will provide Manoel with a tool set that, in turn, will help him to impact the project team in a different way. Without the technical skill, no amount of behaviorally based coaching will increase his technical skill set. Further, with a technical toolkit, he can gain confidence and dispense with his fear. Increased awareness of behaviors and their impact via coaching cannot mitigate his lack of technical knowledge.

Let’s take a hypothetical example of building a birdhouse to illustrate the difference between approaches. Training can help Manoel learn how to build a birdhouse. A coach will help Manoel understand why he wants to build a birdhouse. And, gives feedback on what Manoel needs to be a successful birdhouse builder. After watching Manoel build a birdhouse, a consultant will then tell him what to change or do differently. A therapist asks Manoel how he feels about building a birdhouse and inquires about his history, particularly as a child, with birdhouses.

Based on the data, the Head of Business Development and Talent Director agreed that Manoel does not need consulting advice. Nor will coaching help him to change the impact on the project team. Therapy is not in order. What he requires is a specific technical skill that, when acquired and applied, will help to alleviate his fears stemming from not knowing the How To’s of project management; and as a consequence, Manoel can modify the impact on his project members by having the right tool kit with which to lead.

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