The Fourth Pillar of the goHappy Employee Engagement Model for frontline leaders is to coach, not boss. But, what does this mean, and how can you embody this in your role?

While your job title may include the word “manager,” to be an effective leader, you must break out of the traditional manager mindset and embrace the idea of being a coach. Coaches aim to be supportive and encouraging rather than commanding and controlling. Embracing a coaching role demonstrates to employees that they are a valuable part of the team and that you are there to help them become the best that they can be. This attitude will increase employee engagement and commitment.

Effective leader coaches also embody all of the other three pillars in the goHappy Model: Authenticity, Connection, and Appreciation. A frontline leader who is already employing these Pillars will naturally be a more effective coach. Let’s look more closely at the actions you can take to show your team not only that you want them to succeed, but that you are there to help them achieve that success.


As we have explained before, there are four key actions involved in being a leader coach. 

  • Create job clarity
  • Set meaningful goals
  • Give autonomy and feedback
  • Provide learning opportunities

Let’s take a quick dive into each one:

Create job clarity
Creating job clarity sets the foundation for the success of your team as well as the company. If employees are not clear on the expectations of their role and what their performance benchmarks are, you are setting them up for failure. A few tips:

  • While this is an essential step at the beginning for each team member, it is also critical to continue providing clarity as the employee and their role evolves. 
  • Encourage your team to reach out to you with questions if they are ever unclear about anything. 
  • When they do reach out with questions, always affirm that you view this as a proactive action they are taking to be successful at their job. They should always be made to feel comfortable reaching out for any clarification of their job.

Set meaningful goals
Setting meaningful goals is part of the supportive nature of being a coach. Focusing here shows you recognize how each team member can bring more value to the team because of who they are, not just because of the role they perform. A few tips:

  • Ensure that goals for each employee leverage their unique strengths. 
  • Goals should challenge each employee to grow in ways not just beneficial to the company, but to their future career goals. 
  • Make sure you’re connecting with your team individually in order to understand what their strengths are and what their career goals look like. This level of connection will lead to much higher employee engagement as you prove that they are valuable.

Give autonomy and feedback
Giving autonomy and feedback flows directly from the two previous actions. A few tips:

  • If you have provided enough job clarity, both you and your employees should feel comfortable with their autonomy. If there is discomfort here, consider revisiting role clarity and expectations. This will also lead to more confident employees. 
  • Consistent feedback not only provides ongoing job clarity, it also helps employees know how they are doing on their goals. Your guidance can encourage your team’s creativity while also keeping them on track. 
  • Remember, if you have provided job clarity and are giving consistent feedback but are still not comfortable with employee autonomy, this might be a good opportunity for some introspection. Are you approaching your role from a place of authority, command, and control? This may be an invitation for you to work on authenticity, vulnerability, and trust

Provide learning opportunities
Finally, providing learning opportunities is essential for everyone. By supporting your employees in improving their skills and learning new ones, you once again prove they are valuable. You also help your team provide more value to the company when they are expanding their training. A few tips:

  • Similar to setting meaningful goals, make sure you’re connecting with your team to find out what they want to learn and what their career goals are. Making sure their learning is engaging for them and benefits them long-term is very motivational. 
  • Come up with ideas for learning opportunities that you think will benefit each employee specifically, but always encourage them to come to you with ideas for ways they can improve their skills as well. 

You may have noticed that connection and communication with your team is vital in each of these four actions. You can only be an effective coach if you are communicating with your team positively and consistently, and encouraging them to do the same. This can be as simple as regularly checking in. But also remember that goHappy has tools to make this easier. Explore our goHappy messaging and goPowered feedback solutions to support your frontline leadership coaching strategy and start improving frontline engagement and retention.