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When should you code, coach, or consult?

There are many things you could do today. Three options are coding, consulting, or coaching.

Each has its place, but how do you know which is fit for a given problem?

Here’s how I think about it.

Coding (or any hands-on work) is helpful when your team needs:

  • A particular skill that you have, which they don’t. This could be configuring Apache modules, writing XF86Config files, or working with the S3 API.
  • Another pair of hands to fix a production problem or meet a deadline.

Coding is usually the lowest leverage work you can do, as it doesn’t build the team’s skill or abilities. But, sometimes it’s necessary, so don’t shy away.


Consulting (which I define as ‘giving advice’) is helpful when your team needs:

  • Advice from a seasoned leader/expert who’s been-there-done-that
  • Technical or domain-specific information they don’t have

Consulting often sounds like “Here’s what you should do….” You give the advice, and they do the work.

Consulting is higher leverage than coding because it gives the teams new experiences, and helps them build new skills. But it might not help them think differently.


Coaching (which I define as ‘helping improve performance’) is helpful when your team needs:

  • To try new models of thinking
  • To see new possibilities
  • To reason about hard problems
  • To decrease dependency on your coding or consulting

Coaching your team to improve performance is the highest leverage work you can do.


I offer both leadership coaching and organizational consulting services because both are useful at different times. Truthfully, most of my engagements involve both coaching and consulting work, allowing me to find the best fit for each situation.

Would you like to work with me to become a more skilled leader, and build a team where everyone joyfully contributes to solving problems? If so, consider scheduling a free Discovery call.

You don’t need to prepare anything for the Discovery call – I’ll lead, and you relax.

We might not need the whole hour… or maybe we will.

Use this link to make 2020 a breakthrough year.

Talk soon,

About Marcus Blankenship

Where other technical coaches focus on process or tools, I focus on the human aspects of your Programmer to Manager transition. I help you hire the right people, create the right culture, and setup the right process which achieves your goals. Managing your team isn't something you learned in college. In fact, my clients often tell me "I never prepared for this role, I always focused on doing the work". If you're ready to improve your leadership, process and team, find out how I can help you.

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