The white elephant still exist for leaders in coaching

September 16, 2011

For over 30 years I have worked with executives that indicate they are interested in improving their skills, leadership ability or their overall company performance. About two thirds of that time was as a corporate officer and the balance as a consultant. In the old days, exploring the strengths, areas of development and desires of the executive wasn’t called coaching. In fact, many executives at that time would have taken offense to the term.

Today’s world however makes it trendy to be able to tell your peers that you are linked with a professional coach. However, the same problem exists today as it did 30 years ago. Most leaders don’t want to hear the reality about how their perceived, how effective they are as leaders and what they could modify in their behaviors to increase their effectiveness.  I know this sounds counter intuitive that an executive could pay a fee for services to a coach and then discount their feedback, but it happens all the time. It’s almost an expected norm by coaches that accept this role as the primary means of income. Typically, how coaches deal with this issue is not to deal with this issue.  Most coaches will be anything but direct for the fear of the relationship being terminated. I have had dozen of coaches tell me their clients are only interested in having their own beliefs, values and methodologies re-enforced by the coach. The moment the discussion swings to pointing out changes required in order to improve, the leader disengages.

Being an executive today requires immense skills and competencies that are sustainable. We all should be so fortunate to have a sounding board, a true trusted partner, and an experienced professional assisting us to navigate through these incredible tough economic times. If you are thinking about obtaining a coach, here is what I recommend you look for;

1.      The chemistry needs to be right. Meet with the person first and discuss their philosophy, background, successes, failures and their values. Determine if what you hear and observe feels comfortable enough to you so you may be completely honest and sometimes vulnerable with them.

2.       Speak to them about how they do their work. Specifically, you are looking for a coach that is not just going to present answers to problems but will guide you through crafted discussions to a solution that is yours.

3.      Challenge them on their ability to be candid and forward in presenting reality to you. You want someone capable of respectively offering you the reality of your situation unvarnished politically.

4.      Set the ground rules before you hire the coach. Agree on the frequency and duration of the coaching sessions and the permission level you will give the coach on being absolutely straight with you without them feeling as though they will lose your account.. Coaches typically cost $500 to $2500 a month depending on the time investment and complexity and urgency of the issues being examined.

In the ideal world, everyone would have a coach. If the right coach for you is chosen, there is nothing but upside for you as a leader in improving your deliverable. Make sure that when the decision is made to hire a coach, that your motivation to do so isn’t hampered with the underlining desire to obtain feedback that just supports you current mind set. Be open, be vulnerable, be honest and use this time as probably the only real feedback you will receive that is objective and honest.

For the investment, I see great return. I would be happy to discuss the overall coaching model with you if you have further questions.

Be as good as you can be, make a small investment to obtain a huge personal ROI.


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