<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=585972928235617&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Situational Leadership: When to Coach, When to Manage

Situational Leadership

There is a fundamental yet often misconstrued aspect of sales leadership that gets a lot of airtime: the fine line between managing and coaching. At The Center for Sales Strategy, we understand the pivotal role that effective leadership plays in propelling sales teams toward success.

Managing and coaching are two distinct, albeit interconnected, approaches that leaders employ to guide their teams. But what sets them apart?

Understanding the Difference Between Managing and Coaching

Managing is like conducting an orchestra, ensuring that all the instruments play in harmony. It involves overseeing tasks, processes, and achieving goals. While vital for meeting targets, it predominantly focuses on short-term outcomes.

On the other hand, coaching is about nurturing talent and focusing on the individual growth and development of team members. It’s a collaborative journey that goes beyond achieving immediate results and aims for long-term success by refining and developing skills while fostering continuous improvement.

Priorities for the Modern Leader

Striking the Right Balance

As a leader, you want to shift from simply managing to embracing a coaching-centric approach.


Because coaching transcends routine supervision, it empowers individuals to thrive independently. It’s about asking the right questions, actively listening, and guiding team members to unlock their full potential.

A strong and effective leader fosters a partnership that enables self-discovery and skill enhancement. It's in this empowering environment that problem-solving becomes an ingrained skill rather than a managerial task.

While managing is crucial for maintaining operational efficiency, coaching creates an atmosphere where every person can evolve into a self-motivated, high-performing team member. It’s about cultivating a culture of continuous learning and adaptability within your sales force.

Ultimately, effective sales leadership isn’t about choosing between managing or coaching; it’s about finding the delicate balance between the two. Learn to harness the strengths of both approaches, utilizing management for immediate results and coaching for sustained growth.

When to Manage and When to Coach

The balanced approach to managing and coaching is based on various factors such as the team's experience, the specific situation, and the individuals' needs.

Here's a breakdown of when to manage and when to coach:

When to Manage:

1. Urgent Situations: In urgent or critical situations where immediate action is necessary, a sales leader should step in to manage. This could include handling escalated customer issues or resolving conflicts within the team.

2. Setting Clear Expectations: When outlining specific targets, goals, or key performance indicators, it's essential to manage by providing clear expectations. This involves defining objectives, timelines, and desired outcomes.

3. Monitoring Performance: Regularly tracking performance metrics and ensuring adherence to processes and procedures falls under the managerial aspect. It involves providing feedback on the performance against established benchmarks.

4. Decision-Making: In situations where a clear directive or decision is required, a manager should step in and provide guidance. This might involve setting priorities, allocating resources, or making strategic choices.

When to Coach:

1. Skill Development: Coaching is crucial for developing the skills and capabilities of the sales team. When team members need guidance on specific sales techniques, communication skills, or improving their approach, coaching becomes essential.

2. Individual Development Plans: When employees have personalized development plans or areas they want to improve upon, coaching sessions become valuable. It's an opportunity for leaders to provide guidance, support, and resources tailored to individual needs.

3. Problem-Solving: Instead of providing direct solutions, coaching allows leaders to guide team members in finding solutions themselves. This fosters independent thinking and problem-solving skills among team members.

4. Motivation and Engagement: Coaching sessions can serve as a platform to motivate and engage team members by discussing their career aspirations, challenges, and ways to overcome obstacles. It helps in boosting morale and fostering a positive work environment.


By embracing coaching techniques alongside managerial duties, leaders can catalyze transformative change within their sales teams, nurturing a culture of excellence that thrives in both the short and long term.

CSS Leadership Mindset Watch Now

Topics: leadership leadership development