Case Detail

Case Summary

Leader as Coach: Restoring Employee Motivation and Performance (B)

Case Number: 5-418-750(B), Year Published: 2019

HBS Number: KE1146

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Key Concepts

human resource management, leadership, management development, motivation, performance management, sales force management, women in business, "Leader as Coach" Coach Approach


Kiera, a young, enthusiastic sales rep, was recently promoted to manager of a sales team of five. In her first year on the job, she tackled a major revamp of the company's outdated training materials and organized a regional conference for her area, but neither her boss nor corporate seemed to appreciate the work she had been doing. Without support or guidance from her boss, Kiera was confused. What was she supposed to do? Parts A and B of the case present two different perspectives on coaching. Part A contains a narrative from the point of view of the "coachee," Kiera, who was learning how to work with her boss, ultimately with the assistance of an executive coach. This case focuses on coaching as a tool to enhance self-management and relationship management and to improve personal performance. Part B describes how Kiera started to learn the "coach approach" to managing her team with the continued guidance of her executive coach. She learned to apply the same skills that her coach used with her in Part A to diagnose her team, share feedback, and communicate expectations. She was learning how to listen and ask thoughtful questions, but she also needed to expand her awareness to "other-management" and build her own coaching skills to enhance her team's performance.

Learning Objectives

After working on this case, students should be able to: identify when coaching is appropriate, the timing of interventions, and the coachability of staff; ask the right questions and listen to the answers to enlarge discussion about performance; understand the difference between outside coaches and leaders as coaches—and when to use each; describe strategies for "managing up" to one's boss; and use self- and situational-assessment and action-planning tools to improve personal performance.

Number of Pages: 4

Extended Case Information

Teaching Areas: Organizational Behavior

Teaching Note Available: Yes

Geographic: United States

Industry: Emergency and safety supplies

Organization Name: Safety Supply Company

Organization Department: Sales

Organization Size: Medium

Decision Maker Position: Sales manager

Decision Maker Gender: Female