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Becoming a Coach vs. Being a Manager

Tush reflects on how his passion for teaching kids to play cricket has impacted his own development from being a manager to becoming a coach.

Tush Wijeratne
Tush Wijeratne

 

In anyone’s career, it’s a safe assumption that they’ve had a variety of different managers. Some good and some not so good. The best of managers have a huge impact on us as individuals and our growth and development, but there is a role for those who have been ‘bad managers’ too. We learn more from our war stories as this makes us stronger and better people, and the same applies to bad managers. Good managers show us that there is another pathway, a light at the end of the tunnel. The type of manager we become depends on us; we of course have been influenced in our careers, but our style of management is a choice. A choice that we dictate.

For many years, I have battled with how I define the role of a ‘manager’ and furthermore, how that definition impacts my own style. I’ve read the management books, I have sought out the mentors and I have worked with great people from entry to senior level but something was still missing. I didn’t want to be just ‘manager’ by title, I wanted to embody the role of a manager. I realized I needed to find out what makes me tick, what are my passions and values and how can my unique drivers benefit those that report to me.

 

"We learn more from our war stories as this makes us stronger and better people, and the same applies with bad managers. Good managers show us that there is another pathway, a light at the end of tunnel."

 

An absolute passion of mine is coaching kids cricket. I work with children from ages 8-12 and I can absolutely assure you that nothing will challenge or reward you as much as coaching a child in something they love. Taking each of these wonderful individuals on their own mini journeys gives me much joy. Their varied personalities and needs, constantly forcing me to reflect on how to adapt my style of leadership depending on their requirements. Whether that be technical capability, emotional needs, character traits or learning styles, I have to consider it ALL. These young souls who are becoming young adults, learning skills every session, whether that be accountability, drive, dedication, commitment, or simply camaraderie, it is wonderful to discover that you are not their ‘manager’, you are their ‘coach’. And I coach them to be the best version of themselves and most importantly, to enjoy every moment of the process, good and bad. For all of it, is part of the experience.

And then it dawned on me. This didn’t just apply in the sporting context, but the professional one. We can hold manager titles without actually managing the individuals. We can have direct reports and provide no other value than that of a figurehead. What we should be doing always is coaching our teams, mentoring them. I need them to think independently with me coaching them to the solution, helping them establish the outcome for themselves. The solution for winning a game, or delivering a complex project requires a team…and that team needs a coach. A coach who understands the problem faced, who is empathetic and who is able to guide and facilitate a solution. External factors influence delivery as much as internal factors, so identifying these and investing time in individuals is a coaching trait that is absolutely essential to a high-performing and well-functioning team.

We should manage the delivery of the outcome, and not the people. My goal is to make sure I have given my team a platform to grow, showcase their skills and expand their experience, enabling them to be the best they can be. This then allows me to deliver against our objectives. I am by no means saying I am the perfect manager or coach. Perfection is not my goal and it never should be. But striving to bring your best self to whatever game you are in is what I aim to achieve in my role as a coach.

 

Tush Wijeratne
Tush Wijeratne
Talent Acquisition Lead DACH & Nordics
Tush is based in London and leads the Talent Acquisition teams for the regions D/A/CH and Nordics. His passion is to help grow the people around him and his greatest accomplishment has been to coach a sports team and see them believe in themselves to win the league against some very stiff competition.

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