Transitioning from Boss to Coach: A Guide for Customer Success Leaders

Transitioning from Boss to Coach: A Guide for Customer Success Leaders

There’s a thin line between a boss and a coach. Think you’re dancing it? Below, we’ll give you that feather-light tap you need to transition from being a boss to becoming a coach.

Transitioning from Boss to Coach: A Guide for Customer Success Leaders
Transitioning from Boss to Coach: A Guide for Customer Success Leaders

What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word boss? For most of us, it’s a senior person who intimidates, micromanages, and often leaves their team feeling more stressed about their expectations than the work itself. Now, think of a coach. They’re usually in the trenches with their team, create strategies that empower them, and focuses on the vision. Doesn’t that sound completely different?  This is the differentiation customer success leaders should look to achieve. A coach is there, right alongside their team, to help them learn and grow. While a has more of a hands-off approach and has unrealistic expectations.

To be an effective customer success leader that leads a success CS department, you must transition from a boss mentality to a coach. But how can you align your mentality with being a coach for your team instead of a boss? In this guide, we’ll give you practical tips you can use to become the leader your team deserves.

How a Customer Success Leader can Transition into a Coach

Make an effort to know your team members personally

One of the first ways you can start being more of a coach and less of a boss is to get to know your team members on a personal level. Make a lasting connection with them by genuinely asking them about their day, week, month, etc. And not just about how things are going at work, but in their lives as well. You also want to speak to your staff in a positive, encouraging manner. This will help you create bridges through empathy and mutual respect.

Understand team members’ aspirations and goals

To be a coach, a customer success leader needs to understand the goals and aspirations of their team members. If you know what their individual goals are, you can align them with the organization’s goals, helping keep your employees motivated and accountable. And when your team knows that their goals matter to you, it can also boost their morale and make them want to work for you. But if you’re just making a transition from being a boss to a coach, chances are they won’t be open to sharing this information with you. So, how can you get them to start sharing? You share your goals first.

Become Self-aware

Customer success leaders who want to change their leadership mentality need to be self-aware. When you focus on learning more about your habits, personality, values, etc., you can better help those around you. For example, if you take stock on how your words or actions impact your team, you can focus on being more intentional about how you respond to certain situations.

Listen to your team members

One of the best pieces of advice we have for you on your journey to becoming a coach is to listen to your team members.You need to instruct them in a positive way, explain the agenda clearly, ensure they have no unanswered questions, and be attentive. A customer success leader needs to focus on the staff if they raise any concerns or questions. You must also be direct and maintain eye contact. It’s necessary to be approachable and develop empathy toward them. And overall, ensure that you’re engaging in two-way conversations and that they aren’t one-sided.

Incentivize and motivate team members

Your team members need to be motivated to be better for themselves and the company. If you don’t already know, try to find out what motivates your customer success teams. Is it praise from customers or a monetary bonus? It could even be public validation and improved professional opportunities.

Find out what makes them invested in the company and show your appreciation.

Core Competencies

When you’re making this transition, these skills will help make the process smoother.


The customer success leader needs to be clear and not send any mixed messages. Clarity in the communication process will help better understanding. So, if you want to be a coach, there needs to be more attentiveness and clear communication and less ambiguity and confusion.


Commitment is the base for a positive relationship and creates a safe space for team members to share their issues. Customer success leaders need to be committed to being better, doing better, than they did yesterday.

Emotional intelligence

Transitioning to a coaching role requires strong emotional intelligence and social management skills. Increasing social awareness is possible, and being emotionally available to team members is crucial to for them to succeed as a team.


It’s important to develop excellent observation skills. Observation skills include verbal and non-verbal cues that team members show.


To be a coach, it’s necessary to be collaborative. You need to nurture an equal relationship and ensure collaboration. So, don’t just hand off an assignment to your team, be right there with your team trying to brainstorm solutions and tackle the problem together. This collaborative environment transforms the business and improves team performance.17

Bottom Line

The mindset shift to a coach will ensure a healthy and happy team. And not just your team, but a happy, organized team that functions as a unit will also lead to more satisfied customers. And who doesn’t want that?

You might also like:

Learn More
Book a Demo

Get a live demo!

See how SmartKarrot can transform your customer success outcomes.

Book a Demo

Take SmartKarrot for a spin

See how SmartKarrot can help you deliver
winning customer outcomes at scale.

Book a Demo