The Difference Between Coaching and Management

Jul 11, 2024 | By Jenna van Schoor
Business executives discussing the difference between coaching and management leadership approaches

Coaching and management are two people strategies we can apply in many situations, including a business. However, are they mutually exclusive, or can we use them together? 

Neither approach is better than the other, as both have their strengths. In today’s world, they work together, so it can sometimes be challenging to differentiate between them when they are done well.

In this post, we’ll talk about each of them to give a clearer picture of their similarities and differences. We’ll then discuss how to use coaching and management together for maximum benefit.

What is coaching?

Coaching is a client-driven approach that focuses on helping individuals or groups gain insight into what they want and what holds them back from achieving their potential. This approach focuses on getting results, but how does it work in practice?

Coaching is collaborative and involves structured conversations, with the coach being a thought partner. It empowers people to set goals, learn to do things differently and achieve their aims while building self-management, leadership, communication and critical thinking skills. It is about both personal and professional development.

What is management?

According to an Indeed article, management is about supervision and directing workflows to achieve results and organisational goals.  

Therefore, management typically happens in a more hierarchical setting, which means that people are told what to do from the top down and must develop tools and methods to achieve set objectives. 

Of course, there are various management strategies, but effective managers know what people need to do in an organisation and how to get them to perform their given tasks and duties optimally. Management is about people getting things done. Coaching is about people’s development.

How are coaching and management different?

The article cited above breaks down the differences between these approaches in the following categories:


Coaches value ongoing feedback, whereas managers might only give or receive feedback in certain circumstances.


Both these leadership strategies approaches are goal-oriented, but coaches focus more on long-term goals, whereas management is about achieving results in the shorter term.


Management usually involves a top-down approach towards problem-solving, whereas coaching is more collaborative. 

For example, a coach might encourage a more junior staff member to develop their problem-solving skills but wouldn’t necessarily try to solve the problem. On the other hand, a manager might guide a junior staff member directly instead of waiting for them to take initiative.


Although both approaches revolve around communication, coaching is a space in which someone is encouraged to fully express themselves and their needs and wants authentically, whereas management is more about communicating about the work deliverables.


Management involves delegation, overseeing work processes, and intervening when necessary. However, coaching is more collaborative, developmental and open-ended.

Reliance on others

Coaching focuses on critical thinking skills to help people become more self-reliant and accountable problem solvers. However, managers may encourage less self-reliance in a more hierarchical setting where the focus is more on achieving goals and meeting deadlines as a team.

How coaching and management can work together

While there is certainly an overlap between the two approaches, the methods used are different. If we think about it, is coaching a humanistic evolution of management in a post-industrial, high-tech world?

To sum up, the differences shared above show that coaching is about unleashing potential and improving performance. Management, however, is concerned with the nitty gritty and ensuring that the day-to-day tasks get done. 

However, in a changing world, can we only rely on one approach to meet our personal, professional, and organisational needs? Organisations clearly need a combined approach, with an increased focus on employee wellness and remaining agile and adaptable.

While not necessarily concerned with the minutiae of daily tasks, pragmatic coaching strategies can powerfully combine with a robust management approach for optimal functioning and employee wellness. Therefore, managers can incorporate coaching practices into their management styles, prioritising both business performance and employee well-being to build effective management and leadership strategies.

Learn more about coaching and management at SACAP Global

If you want to learn more about coaching and management approaches, SACAP Global offers various online short courses and micro-credentials that can help you build practical management and coaching skills in just a few weeks.

If you’re in a management position, you could benefit from coaching skills to empower and motivate your staff. As a coach, you could learn more about management and how to incorporate coaching principles into a business environment. 

Here is some more information about some of our most popular courses on coaching and management below:

  • Intro to Coaching: Learn how to grow your capacity to build relationships, communicate effectively, cultivate ways to generate goals, and manage your progress in day-to-day life and the workplace.
  • Coaching Skills for Managers: Learn how to empower others to maximise their work-related potential, performance and growth.
  • Intro to Management and Leadership: Build a mix of skills, capabilities and knowledge needed to manage teams while successfully keeping a business on track.
  • Employee Motivation & Wellness: Explore why staff engagement and employee wellness are essential for organisational success and how to apply these to your working environment.
Previous post