Straight off the bat, I can’t assure you that all coaches in the coaching industry are equally effective. There are many who are truly excellent and, as the profession grows, the standard of coaching improves, too. Like anything, it’s always a good idea to seek out client testimonials.
In the meantime, allow me the opportunity to debunk 8 of the common unwarranted myths and assumptions about professional coaching.
1. Coaching is time consuming. If we include the coaching session and activities related to coaching, a standard commitment is about one hour per week. You tell me, is that too much time to spend on targeted professional development? Let's face it, you probably spend more than an hour in unproductive meetings each week!
2. Coaching is for people who have problems, not for the successful ones. Coaching works best for motivated people who want to achieve more. It is often used to support good performers who are facing difficult challenges and those transitioning into new roles with greater responsibility. It's aspirational.
3. Coaching is expensive. Studies by the International Coaching Federation estimate that coaching delivers 5 – 7 times the original investment and has a higher relevance to the individual involved and to the client. Often the goals of coaching are diffuse – for example, they might concern managing client relationships more effectively or developing a more nuanced approach when communicating with peers or subordinates, rather than to increase profitability in the short term. But impact is possible to measure, and should be.
Inevitably, ROI will vary from coaching assignment to coaching assignment. The point is that there is a respectable source of evidence suggesting that ‘effective’ coaching offers a good return on investment.
4. You can’t trust a coach, they are people, and people gossip. The nature of the coaching relationship is characterised by trust, mutual respect and freedom of expression. While a coach is indeed a person and may be being paid by an employer, a coach working within a professional ethics framework is bound by that framework. Confidentiality is fundamental to the coaching contract and should be guaranteed.
5. Coaching is ‘touchy feely’, like therapy. Unlike therapy, coaching is about the present and the future, not the past. Coaches don’t explore your family history, search for unconscious motivations or try to change your personality. The role of a coach is as a catalyst, helping you develop your potential and improve your performance. The emphasis in a coaching relationship is on action, accountability and follow-through. Not even touchy feely – quite tough actually!
6. A coach who isn’t an expert in my field can’t help me. Let’s be clear here, a coach builds capability - it’s a consultant who gives expert advice. Effective coaching helps clients make positive changes for high-impact and growth. The most helpful coach is one who listens to you and helps you reflect on your choices, behaviours, interpretations and judgements. Underlying a professional coach’s success is the fact that s/he is an entrepreneur first and foremost, which means s/he is very familiar with challenges, fears and change.
7. A coach ‘fixes’ people’s deficits. Professional and personal development are life-long processes. Most Executives have a professional coach on their side and it’s not because they’re broken, it’s because they have goals and want to excel. It's also because it can be difficult to find someone independent (a sounding board) with who they can have confidential and objective conversations about big complex issues.
8. Coaching is for Women, not Men. Say that to Roger Federer or any member of the Olympic Team! Coaching is for aspirational people. A coach helps you move from where you are to where you want to be and does so by solely focusing on your goals. Men have goals, too, don’t they?
There’s no question that future leaders will need constant coaching. As the business environment becomes more complex, they will increasingly turn to coaches for help in cultivating their thinking and understanding how to act. The kind of coaches I am talking about will do more than influence behaviours; they will be an essential part of the leader’s learning process, providing knowledge, opinions, and judgment in critical areas. So choose wisely!
After many years of research; of providing coaching services; building an international coaching business; and developing coaching capability in others, I (and my clients) can attest to achieving measurable results with a wide variety of industries. Contact me on +61 (0) 419 847 959 or email@example.com if you want to know more about the value of coaching to your workplace.