The main purpose of a coach

One of the world’s most prestigious sporting competitions is the English Premier League, also known as the EPL.  It is a multi-billion dollar competition, and some of its teams – like Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool – are global brands.

Anyway, each year in the EPL there is a race known as the sack race.  What is it?  Essentially it’s a betting race to see which of the league’s coaches get sacked – or fired – first.

In the sack race betting agencies lay out sacking odds on all the coaches in the league and then once the season begins, all the fun begins.  Team performances are monitored on an almost daily basis, and the sacking odds for coaches rise and fall according to how well their teams are doing.

In a professional sports league like the EPL, the risk of getting the sack is a constant distraction for coaches.  And the coaches most distracted? It is those whose teams are near the bottom of the ladder. Team owners and other stakeholders expect results – and when they don’t come in the form of high performance?  Bye bye coach.  And this is exactly what happens in the EPL.  Coaches get fired on a regular basis.

Which leads me to the main purpose of the coach, which is:

The main purpose of the coach is to improve performance.

Yes, the main purpose of the coach is to raise the performance level of the team or individual being coached.  Put simply, the coach helps to take the individual or team from where they are now to where they need to be.

Nothing else matters in coaching except for performance improvement.  This improvement comes in a number of different ways including:

  1. Improved mindset
  2. Improved game plan
  3. Improved skill patterns
  4. Improved performance culture and environment
  5. Improved team dynamic and relationships
  6. Improved execution
  7. Improved results or outcomes.  To get more Ws.

The coach isn’t 100% responsible for all of these improvements.  And good coaches don’t take 100% of the credit when a team performs.  Furthermore, when a team’s performance sucks it can be for reasons the coach has little or no control over, such as:

  • Not enough money to hire better players
  • Poor administrative support
  • An unattractive club brand
  • The competitive environment

Regardless, the coach is seen as the figurehead for performance, so when performance is not good, the coach is often the fall guy.

Let me say it again.  The primary purpose of a coach is to improve performance.

Coaching in business.  Different domain.  Same purpose.

Sports is the domain that people associate most often with coaching.  However, since the start of 21st century the terms coach and coaching have become increasingly used in the commercial sector.  And there has been a worldwide growth in what’s known as the professional coaching industry.

Professional coaches are men and women who work in the private and public sectors coaching teams, executives, business owners and career professionals to improve performance in their work and personal lives.  These coaches go by a variety of titles such as executive coach, business coach and performance coach.  And their clientele includes CEOs, political leaders, elite athletes and small business owners.

To highlight the importance of the professional coach, author Ram Charan stated in a Harvard Business Review article that:

There’s no question that future leaders will need constant coaching. As the business environment becomes more complex, they will increasingly turn to coaches for help in understanding how to act. The kind of coaches I am talking about will do more than influence behaviors; they will be an essential part of the leader’s learning process, providing knowledge, opinions, and judgment in critical areas. (Source:https://hbr.org/2009/01/what-can-coaches-do-for-you)

To put it another way, professional coaches help their clients improve professional and personal performance.

In my Blended Coaching Model I lay out quite clearly the purpose of coaching , and some of the ways in which performance can be improved.

As the model shows, in a coaching relationship you have a coach and a coachee/s.  And as the relationship between coach and coachee/s progresses, and as skill levels improve, performance improves. Again, that’s the purpose of coaching.

This model applies equally to both professional coaching and sports coaching.  Coaching is all about performance improvement.