The Most Important Work for Managers

Some leaders have coaches, but all leaders are coaches.

Maybe as you read that opening line you thought, “I want to be a great leader, but I don’t know the first thing about being a coach.”

Let me tell you more about what I mean. You probably know more than you think.

In my work as a manager and as a coach, I’ve found all the best leaders work hard at developing themselves, at growing, and learning. They all find different ways to accomplish this, but all of them do it.

In short, all of them are their own coaches.

They spend time analyzing their own thoughts, feelings, and the results of their decisions and actions.

And then they make adjustments to their thoughts, feelings, and actions so they can get better results in the future.

I have a feeling you’re here, reading this now, because you are already doing this work to become a better manager and a great leader.

I recently came across this post I wrote which was also published in my book Exercising Backwards.

I want to share it with you today because looking back at it encouraged me to keep working hard with my own self-coaching.

I hope it does the same for you.

It takes practice to become fully aware of the dangerous feelings and actions which are manifestations of the person that you do not want to be without giving into additional negative emotions like disappointment, embarrassment, shame, guilt and even disgust. You must learn to see these as opportunities, much like your mechanic sees the areas of your car that need maintenance. You may look at the list he gives you of automotive parts that need to be replaced and have a surge of anxiety and stress. However, how does he feel as he looks your car over, seeking to find things that need attention? Is he anxious, worried? Not for a moment! He has the knowledge and ability to correct any problems that surface. In fact, the defects he discovers are opportunities for him. Opportunities to serve the owner of the automobile and to make money!

As you seek to become aware of areas of your life that need some corrective work, view each negative discovery as an opportunity to reap the future benefits of creating positive change. Fight the urge to give up or to give into negative feelings of disappointment. Eagerly look for opportunities to continue to fine-tune the person you are on the inside, with full confidence that you will soon possess all of the skills necessary to make any needed adjustments. Become a skilled detective seeking to gain expert insight into a complicated case: YOU. When you discover something you do not like, the inclinations of the person that you do not want to be, learn to savor the moment. Using the occasion to gather as much information as you can so that you can eventually solve the case. Giving this mindful attention to the inside is absolutely necessary to allow your outside to become and remain what you desire it to be.

If you’re ready to take your self-coaching to the next level, check out my newest product for managers here:

Set aside some private time to write-out your responses to the exercise below. Turn off your phone and computer notifications or put your devices away completely. Find a place where you can spend a few minutes without being interrupted.

Here’s a quick quiz that will help you to rate your own self-coaching skills. Answer the questions below as mostly TRUE or mostly FALSE, then follow the instructions to score your quiz and find out if you are

  • A Superhero Manager, who’s an expert at self-coaching and showing up as a great leader

  • A Superhero in training, who has some work to do to become a master self-coach, but it on their way to becoming a great leader

  • Just beginning to discover your superpowers


  1. I regularly take time to check in and notice how I’m feeling inside.

  2. I try out new ways of interacting with my team to see what results.

  3. When things aren’t going well at work, I am able to remain calm and find solutions.

  4. In conversations, I spend more time listening and asking questions than giving advice.

  5. When I’m at home with my family, I don’t feel stressed or anxious about work.

  6. I avoid conversations about my feelings.

  7. I often have trouble falling asleep because I feel worried or anxious.

  8. When I have a problem with someone at work, I have trouble letting it go.

  9. I don’t talk to myself or have any internal dialog.

  10. I rarely, if ever, notice patterns in my thinking and feelings.

To get your quiz results, add up the total number of TRUE answers in Questions 1 through 5 and the number of FALSE answers in questions 6-10.

  • If you scored 1-4, you are just beginning to discover your superpowers. A great place to start improving your self-coaching skills might be to schedule a regular time each week during which you can meet with yourself and spend some time in quiet reflection on your progress. Get my FREE self-coaching guide for managers to move forward. Click HERE.

  • If you scored 5-8, you are a Superhero in training. You are on your way to being a great leader. You can strengthen your leadership skills by having more focused self-coaching sessions. Join our Superhero Managers Facebook group to connect with others who have similar goals. Click HERE to join.

  • If you scored 9 or 10, CONGRATS! You are a Superhero Manager. You are likely in control of yourself at work and you show up in a way that brings value to the people around you. Keep up the great work!


Nate Sleger is a career manager, management coach, and author of The Manager’s Self-Coaching Guide. His course Show Up At Work Like A Superhero has been taken by hundreds of managers worldwide. He currently lives and works in Wisconsin, USA.

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