Tools for coaching style managers

Toolful Coach has the opportunity to regulary advise readers of ICN – International Coaching News with tools that relate to the topic of the given issue. We have started our series of publications with the current, 2nd issue about tools for coaching style managers.

The full article may be read on pg 64. of ICN Issue 2, be downloaded in pdf from Toolful Coach’s site and be read as text down here:

Toolful Coach column vol. 1. – tools that coaching style managers can use with their own teams

There are many ways managers can lead their teams. Might be autocratic, democratic, laissez-faire and more – we all know these styles. But given this is a magazine on coaching, what else could be a topic than coaching style managers, right? Someone combining coaching techniques with leadership skills may get far with his team, probably further than any of the above types. On their ways, though, coaching style managers may face several difficulties: how to handle different personalities in their teams, how to find their inner motivations, how to support individual creativity, just to mention a few.

 Toolful Coach is here to introduce some useful tools that coaching style managers can use with their own teams.

Behavior Window

A method of Thomas Gordon that verifies “through a window” which employees demonstrate behavior that is acceptable or unacceptable to the manager. This useful tool helps the manager be cognizant of his or her feelings about a specific behavior and reveals what presents an issue to handle.

It is expedient to compare the proportion of the two areas within a specific diagram. The line dividing the behavior window into two areas is not static. It may move upwards or downwards:

  1. as a result of the things happening within you (how I am feeling);
  2. as a result of the environment (where that specific behavior is demonstrated and who is present);
  3. depending on who the other person is (you tend to accept some people more easily than others).

A manager, especially when taking over a team may benefit from logging his employees’ behaviors for a week or so and grouping them into the windows to have a big picture and build a strategy on how to best handle the given employee.

Problem rectangle

An advanced version of the behavior window, also a method of Thomas Gordon. It enables the manager to identify the owner of a problem very effectively and apply a tool that is appropriate for the case. In every organization, there are behavioral patterns that could raise an issue for the leader or staff, and there is a problem-free zone where productive work is performed. The leader’s objective is to enlarge the problem-free zone, thereby assisting employees in resolving their own problems.

Managers may conduct coaching style conversations – door openers, active listening, questioning techniques – with their staff in order to facilitate problem definition and resolution.

‘What if …?’ questions

When a team is brainstorming and compiling alternative implications for a given issue, members often form sentences with negative comments. The manager may add a ‘What if…?’ tool to these sentences. When a staff member says:

– This would be a great idea, but there will not be any funds for it.

The manager should respond as follows:

– And what would you do if money was not an issue because there was an unlimited budget available?

That way, not only do we fulfill our goal that the employee conveys to us his or her original thought but he or she may even generate a new one. It is equally true for the following statements:

– This would be an extremely time-consuming solution; we are too busy to adopt it.

The manager may pose another question:

– And what would you do if you didn’t lack time and were a time-millionaire?

This enables us to expose all the self-limiting factors, and even if it is impossible to achieve all the goals, part-solutions including very useful alternative ideas, usually surface.


There is nothing new under the sun, i.e. many solutions can be adapted to a particular situation but must be individually tailored. Managers can help their teams think about resolving an issue by asking the following questions:

• Do you know someone with the same dilemma? Can his or her solution be adapted?

• Have you ever been in a similar (if not the same) predicament before? What was useful then?

• How could this problem be resolved in another country or corporate culture? (E.g. a staff member of a U.S-based company studies his dilemma in a Japanese environment. Or an autocratic leader is receptive to the solution of a democratic manager; he or she does not adapt the solution entirely but is inspired by some of its ideas.)


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