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Leadership Role: You're a Coach, not a Player

Updated: Jul 13, 2022

No one is born a leader. Everyone grows in and with this role. Therefore, it is natural that it takes time to understand one's leadership style and to expand leadership skills. However, for many the transition from employee to leader can be challengening. This is because most people move from an operational role to leadership position. Only a very few get trained or prepared for this role change. Thus, some managers find it difficult to clearly decide which tasks they will continue to do and which they stop doing. Give yourself some time for this change process, because: The skills and responsibilites that helped you switch to a leadership position are not the same that will keep you here or keep you moving up.

Fußballfeld mit der Aufschrift: "Als Führungskraft bist Du Trainer:in, nicht Spieler:in". Blogpost über Coaching mit Coco Decrouppé

In this blog post, I talk about why it's important as a leader to pursue the role of trainer or coach. I also give you helpful tools. For example, you can download a free excercise. As many of my coachees talk about this in our coachings or in team training, it is important for me to support leaders in clearly defining their roles and responsibilities. Those who know my Soccer Field Model know that I like to use soccer as an example and metaphor for this.

Metaphor: You are a Coach

Imagine a soccer game. The 11 players of one team are standing on the field. On the sidelines is their coach. When you see this soccer game, you immediately know that the coach and the players belong together. They are a team. But their position on the field also shows a difference: The players play soccer and try to score goals, the coach manages and supports the players by giving them a strategy and direction.

Leaders in companies work similar to a soccer coach. For the most part, leaders stand on the sidelines and manage their team. This does not mean that they are never allowed on the field. Of course, there are situations in which managers should and must take on both roles. Nevertheless, it is important that you reinforce this coaching role and that you are aware of who you are in which situation. Then decide for yourself: "Now I am a player" or "Now I am a coach".

As said before, there is a difference between coaches and players. Their role and responsibilities are different. Let's explore 2 important points that you can take away from the metaphor as a leader:

  1. Develop and define your leadership role

  2. Empower your team

Develop and Define Your Leadership Role

With my soccer metaphor, I would like to illustrate how important it is to develop a clear understanding of one's role as a leader. During the transition from employee to leader, some people try to master 2 roles at the same time. On the one hand, they are now a coach and on the other hand, they are still a player. This results in that person sometimes still running onto the field and tries to score the goals themselves.

If you imagine this situation, you quickly realize how stressful this can be. Coachees that manage a team often describe this challenge in my coaching sessions. They sometimes feel overwhelmed because they have to perform 2 roles and thus, have to give 200% instead of 100%. This strain can lead to physical consequences such as fatigue, exhaustion and stress. Therefore, it is important that you as a leader are aware of your (new) role.

Empower Your Team

Another part of a leadership role is to see oneself as the coach that empowers and reinforces his/her team. It is important that you support your employees, give them strength, praise them and really believe in them. This needs to happen especially in the moments when you think: "How can I praise them when things are not going right?".

Before the soccer match as well as during the half time, every soccer coach tries to encourage his team from the sideline or in the dressing room. In doing so, they try once again to remind the players what the goal and strategy is. Of course, professional soccer players know exactly what they have to do and what is important. Nevertheless, this support is extremely valuable and important to empower and refocus the players. In the half time, coaches really show one more time that they believe that their team can win.

It is similar with employees and leaders in a company. The leader doesn't need to have the answer to everything and always react directly. It is better to find solutions together. In doing so, the leader can give the employees the skills, tools and confidence that they can do it. Recall a moment when your manager praised and encouraged you. How did you feel? Hopefully empowered!

Your employees need your words of encouragement and this can be as simple as: "I know you can do this.". Or a sentence like, "I know you will find a solution to this challenge. Let's talk about it again next week".

Define Your Role & Responsibilites

With free role profile to download and fill-out!

With the change into the leadership position you should become aware of what your responsibilities are. For this you can use my free fact sheet (see photo below). Starting with the technical responsibility, you should consider which tasks you will take on. For example, employee management comes into play here. It can help to talk to your supervisor about the tasks. Alternatively, try to take a new perspective. Ask yourself: How would a person who has just joined the company take on my leadership role?

Fact Sheet: My Role as a Leader

Some are hesitant about what a change from employee to manager means for their interpersonal relationships. Of course, you can still maintain a friendly relationship with employees. The only important thing is that you define your professional, but also your social responsibility. The best way to do this is to communicate your responsibilities openly and clearly. Here are 2 examples:

  • Changes: "Up until now, I have been responsible for customer XY. From now on, I will take on more of the overarching issues."

  • Unchanged:"My door will remain open for you. You can come to me at any time. I have an open ear for your individual challenges."

To simplify this process for you, you can download and fill out my free profile "My leadership role". Define for yourself, but also for others, what your values and tasks are:

Fact Sheet - My Leadership Role
Download ZIP • 194KB

Tip: The profile works best if you print it out. Take 15 minutes to write everything important for you on it and keep it somewhere where you can see it as a reminder.


If you are interested in talking about your leadership role with me in a coaching, feel free to contact me by booking a free first meeting in the calendar above or by writing to

If this article has given you the feeling that a team training would be helpful for you and your team to discuss the roles and responsibilities of all team members, you can find more information here. I also offer a free initial meeting for team trainings.

As always: I am happy to receive your feedback on this blog post. Feel free to browse through my other blog posts as well. :)


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